Planners back bid for 44 more houses on Lonan Drive

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A plan to build up to 44 houses at Lonan Drive, Oban, has been recommended for approval by council planners, subject to a local hearing, after 42 objections were lodged from locals and Oban Community Council.

The officers’ report of handling, presented to Argyll and Bute Council’s planning committee for a decision on Wednesday, advised they hold a local hearing, ‘given the significant interest in the application, with many from local addresses, [and] a broad range of issues raised’.

Indicative plans, submitted by the applicants TSL Contractors Ltd, lay out a mix of flats and semi-detached houses in 12 blocks, with ‘casual’ and ‘equipped’ play spaces, extending beyond the houses on Lonan Drive, on land currently used for ‘informal recreation’.

‘It is the only ‘green’ area within an area of housing, much of which is at high density and therefore has been an essential recreation area for the population,’ wrote Oban Community Council, objecting.

Community councillors argue the road network is ‘already overloaded’ and ‘no further development should be permitted until a solution is found’. They added developing the site, which ‘soaks up a great deal of rain’, would ‘create rapid run off threatening the houses below’. Access to the site was also ‘too narrow to permit a minimum width road and two pavements’.

The report summarised 42 other objections, which argued ‘increased traffic’ on the ‘already congested’ road in ‘a poor state of repair’ could affect response times for the emergency services. Concerns were also raised about ‘over development’, arguing 44 units would be ‘too great for the site’, at odds with the surrounding low-density, detached and semi-detached housing.

The units should be relocated to more suitable sites such as the Dunbeg Corridor, they argued, ‘instead of cramming them into an already densely populated area’. Some feared the two- or three-storied buildings would overlook neighbouring properties.

Others said the site is ‘infested’ with Japanese Knotweed ‘rendering it unsuitable for building and its disturbance will cause spread to neighbouring properties’. ‘The existing sewage and water infrastructure is already beyond capacity for the existing properties it serves,’ others added. ‘Water pressure within the surrounding area is already an issue and the addition of 44 further properties will exacerbate the situation’.

‘Many of the neighbouring properties are built on the top of a steep slope with some property’s ground extending to the edge of the verge. Owners have witnessed signs of instability/slippage in certain areas and these slopes could be undermined by building works impacting adversely on existing properties.’

However, officers assured many concerns could be addressed by conditions, such as adding surface drainage and eradicating the knotweed. The report explains the applicant is seeking permission for residential development in principle only, without a specified number, layout or form of dwellings.

Any future detailed planning applications, it adds, would be ‘fully assessed’ against the local development plan ‘to ensure no adverse visual impact or privacy or amenity issues arise’: ‘Third parties will have the opportunity to comment on the detailed proposals.

‘Whilst this indicative plan illustrates a possible development of 44 dwellings, this does not mean the site is necessarily capable of being developed at that density. The indicative plan has successfully demonstrated that the site is appropriate for residential development arranged along a straight, central access road with buildings either side of it and limited to the ‘valley floor’ without unacceptable encroachment into the steep and wooded valley sides.’