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An application to build 44 homes in Lonan Drive was approved in principle at a public hearing last Wednesday June 26.
More than 100 members of the community took their seats at Argyllshire Gathering Halls at 10am to show their disapproval of TSL Contractors’ plans.
But after a 5-5 split in votes, chairman of Argyll and Bute Council’s planning committee, David Kinniburgh, used his casting vote to approve the planning department’s recommendation to pass the application.
Councillor Kinniburgh also requested that if a more detailed application is submitted to the council – there should be another public hearing.
As the application is only in principle, TSL Contractors would have to submit, and have approved, a more detailed plan before work can go ahead.
Oban Community Council, which objected to the plans, argued that the south side of Oban is already over developed.
A number of concerns were outlined, including: ruining green space, traffic congestion, impacting wildlife and protected plants, sewage, and flooding.
Architect Frank Beaton said that the development would provide ‘much needed social housing in the town’.
Andy Knight of TSL Contractors said: ‘Some people have a need or want to live in town. We are all aware of the pressure on housing. I think the people it may affect the most are those people that currently don’t have suitable housing in Oban.’
The general consensus from the objectors was that it was the right development in the wrong place.
The only Oban councillor sitting on the committee, Roddy McCuish, put forward a motion to refuse the application due to concerns over road safety.
He said the report did not provide sufficient assurance that emergency vehicles could properly access the development unhindered by use of a proposed give-and-take entrance to the site.
He also cited the narrowness of the road at the proposed access, the unusual use of traffic calming measures, and the intensity of traffic already using the road network, which would be exacerbated if the development went ahead.
After the vote, he said: ‘I am extremely disappointed but I respect the decision of the planning committee.’
Councillor McCuish said the fact that it went to a casting vote, shows how close it was.
He added: ‘I still have some concerns regarding road safety. I hope they will be taken on board should this application go further forward.’
Marri Malloy, chairwoman of Oban Community Council and a Lonan Drive resident, said: ‘All the ducks were lined up – I could not see it going any other way. We are going to come out fighting when it goes to planning, there were so many issues that have been swept under the carpet.’
Willie McKillop, a resident and objector, said: ‘I am disappointed, but I thought there was a great representation from the local community. It shows the value of this open space.
‘I still think it is inappropriate and I still think there are serious doubts over the access.’
A spokesperson for the road department said: ‘In my opinion the layout and access is acceptable.’