Flood risk puts dampers on holiday development

Tobermory Main Street was flooded during Storm Brendan. NO_T03_TobermoryFlood01
Tobermory Main Street at the other end of town was flooded during the recent Storm Brendan. NO_T03_TobermoryFlood01

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Flood risk fears could see the plug pulled on plans for a new holiday development in Tobermory.

Despite more than 50 shows of support and a one in 200-year chance of flooding, a public hearing yesterday (Wednesday January 29) was due to hear how councillors have been advised to refuse Argyll Properties’ plans for a retail unit, visitor centre and three self-catering units at land next to Taigh Solais and fire-gutted MacGochans.

Members of Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee considered the application at a hearing in Aros Hall, Tobermory.

In a report, planning officers described the proposed-build as being ‘high quality and well-designed’. If it had not been for the flood risk, the development would have been ‘wholly compliant’ with local and national planning policy.

According to flood mapping by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the application site is classified as medium to high risk and is in the one in 200-year coastal flood zone.

SEPA has objected to the development because it would put new buildings on a previously undeveloped site, putting buildings and more people in flood danger.

The council’s flood risk assessor has also objected to the proposals, following correct interpretation of local and national flood risk planning policy, although both he and officers have worked in conjunction with the developer to try to achieve a solution that would meet planning policy requirements and therefore satisfy SEPA.

‘Regretfully, no such solution has been found or is available in this case,’ says the report.

It continued: ‘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 and which increases the land use vulnerability of the site.’

There were 51 submissions in support of the plan, including one from a member of the public who said: ‘The proposal will provide much-needed additional visitor accommodation in the heart of Tobermory, strengthening the village’s role as a key contributor to the tourism economy of Mull and the wider area.

‘It will also deliver a convenience retail unit, which will provide additional choice to residents and visitors, providing an alternative to the existing co-op.

‘The location of the retail unit next to the main village car park will help to alleviate traffic congestion on Main Street caused by the existing co-op.

‘This will improve road safety on Main Street and reduce the risk of accidents.’