Secret deal ends Connel planning dispute

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A confidential agreement has been reached to alter the Connel home of Ann Colthart, who claimed she lost her privacy after housing was built too close to her house due to a planning mistake.

The details of the settlement will not be disclosed but Argyll and Council Council states it does not include cash compensation.

Ms Colthart, a retired teacher, noticed in May last year a two-storey semi-detached house in neighbouring St Oran’s Place going up 9.3m away from her 14-year-old sunroom at Duriehill, when Argyll and Bute Council’s local planning guidelines state there must be an 18m or 12m separation.

Planning officers apologised and admitted two errors in processing Macleod Construction Ltd’s planning application in 2014. First, officers relied on ‘out-of-date Ordnance Survey data [which] did not depict the sunroom’ and, secondly, they did not undertake a site visit, ‘contrary to established practice’.

Councillors on the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee voted five to four at a public hearing in November to mitigate the privacy issues by moving and frosting windows and erecting a hedge.

Ms Colthart was joined by local campaigners calling for the building to be demolished, and her MP and MSP also urged the Scottish Government to overturn the council’s decision to ‘ride roughshod over its own planning regulations’.

But now, in a joint statement, Argyll and Bute Council chief executive Cleland Sneddon and Ms Colthart said ‘they are in the process of finding a way forward in resolving the matter regarding a development adjacent to Ms Colthart’s property.

‘Argyll and Bute Council accepted that with regards to the town planning process in this instance there were shortcomings which have impacted negatively on Ms Colthart’s enjoyment of her home and an apology was made by its planning and regulatory service.

‘Argyll and Bute Council has agreed to assist Ms Colthart in making alterations to her home to mitigate the loss of privacy and enjoyment that she feels she has suffered and this agreement brings the matter to a conclusion. The agreement will not include a cash settlement.

‘The council and Ms Colthart have agreed that the terms of the agreement when finalised will remain confidential and that no further statements will be made on the matter by either party.’