Mull housing proposal recommended for refusal due to flood risk

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Plans for a retail unit, visitor centre and three self-catering units on the Isle of Mull have been recommended for refusal by council chiefs.

The proposals by Argyll Properties Ltd, for land adjacent to Taigh Soalis in Tobermory, will now go to a public hearing.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has objected to the plans on the grounds of flooding risk, and those views are backed up by Argyll and Bute Council’s flood risk officer.

The council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee made the decision to hold the pre-determination hearing at its meeting on Wednesday October 23. No date has been set for the hearing as yet.

Fifty-one expressions of support have been received by the council for the plans, but one of the authority’s planning officers in a handling report said: ‘The proposal represents an appropriately high quality, well-designed, suitably proportioned development within this existing ‘gap site’ within the Tobermory Harbour waterfront and conservation area and is wholly compliant with all relevant provisions of both local and national planning policy, with the materially critical exception of flood risk.

‘Scottish planning policy, SEPA flood guidance and Local Development Plan
policy advocate the avoidance of built development within areas identified as being at medium to high risk of flooding.

‘In limited circumstances it may be appropriate for development to be permitted within these areas, however the proposed development does not satisfy the required criteria.

‘The proposed development is not sustainable in terms of flood risk as a new building with a combination of commercial and residential units would be introduced into an area identified as being at medium to high risk of flooding.

‘[It also] increases the land use vulnerability of the site, contrary to the principles of Scottish planning policy, the SEPA development management guidance on flood risk and the SEPA flood risk and land use vulnerability guidance.

‘Furthermore, the development is contrary to Policy LDP 10 and Supplementary Guidance SG LDP SERV 7 of the Local Development Plan which require development to be located out with areas of significant flood risk.

‘There are no material considerations which are of sufficient weight meriting the departure from national and local planning policy.’

A design and access statement submitted as part of the original application in 2017 said: ‘It is important that new built forms have presence and will be visible. The views from the sea and town will only be incidental against the rising ground to the rear, thereby creating visual interest but still sitting comfortably on the site. It is not expected that any development will breach the skyline, no matter where it is viewed.’