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A plan by the Taychreggan Hotel near Kilchrenan to build self-catering holiday accommodation has been largely approved as ‘an exceptional case’ in the face of local objection.
The Loch Awe-side hotel’s first application sought permission to build 13 units, attracting 11 objections and seven letters of support, according to a report presented to Argyll and Bute councillors on the planning committee at Kilmory Castle last Thursday.
Supporters argued: ‘The business is struggling financially and the securing of planning permission for the proposed units would cement the future of the hotel which currently employs seven people from within a 10 mile radius of the hotel and a further four/five staff who live onsite at the hotel.’
Another said: ‘The proposed units would have a positive impact on the area by increasing visitors and revenues to the surrounding area.’
Meanwhile, objectors feared a major increase in density and traffic, a visual impact from the Portsonochan on the opposite side of Loch Awe and an ‘over-development of an unspoilt landscape’.
One argued: ‘This is not an application for holiday accommodation units but an application for housing development.’ However, the planning officer replied in the report: ‘A planning condition will ensure the proposed units shall be used for short term holiday occupancy only and not as a main residence.’
Officers disagreed, recommending the application for approval. ‘The development plan would ordinarily only encourage ‘small scale’ development,’ the report concluded: ‘In exceptional cases development in the open countryside of up to and including large scale developments may be supported where there has been demonstrated an exceptional case. The economic benefit afforded by the proposed development would represent an appropriate ‘exceptional case’ argument.’
The Taychreggan Hotel also submitted a second application for a further four log cabins. It drew 10 objections and four expressions of support, with the same reasons as before, including from one objector: ‘The proposed development will have an unacceptable impact upon an area of ancient woodland, leading to its direct loss.’
This time the planning officers agreed, recommending the plan be refused: ‘It is not considered that this woodland site is appropriate in terms of its landscape impact and its erosion of the existing woodland setting of the hotel.’
Councillors Alastair Redman and George Freeman’s amendment to hold a site visit was defeated nine votes to two. In the end, councillors decided: ‘Whilst the development is small scale in nature and would be constructed using materials which are sympathetic to the locality, its introduction into an undeveloped ancient woodland would be materially harmful to its unspoiled character which forms a vital part of the landscape setting of the Taychreggan Hotel.’