Play delay will benefit all ages at Dunbeg, says housing group

Raising one of the first new roofs of new houses going up at Dunbeg.

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Dunbeg residents are being told their promised play areas as part of the new housing development will be well worth the wait.

An open letter to Dunbeg Community Council has been sent by ward councillor Julie McKenzie to quash fears plans for a play area, that should have been built within five years of work starting on the 300 new homes, are being scrapped.

When Link Housing first got Argyll and Bute Council’s approval in 2012 to build phase one of the development, it came with a condition that a formal play area would be provided within the first five years of starting work on the new homes on land near Dunstaffnage Mains Farm or pay no less than £40,000 to the authority to be put towards other play facilities.

Yesterday, Wednesday August 19, planning officers were due to recommend to members of the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee that they agreed to Link Housing’s bid to have that Section 75 obligation discharged.

Councillor McKenzie told The Oban Times she was ‘bamboozled’ at how Dunbeg Community Council and others in the community had ‘got the wrong end of the stick’ and was sending out an open letter to save people from worrying.

‘They can’t be building playgrounds in the middle of building houses and having children wandering in and between. The promised play areas will definitely happen but towards the end of phase three.

‘They will get the playgrounds and they will be much, much better than what they would’ve got at the start.

‘There will also be a municipal open space for teenagers,’ she said.

Wednesday’s report told committee members: ‘Phases one and two of the Dunbeg development, comprising 75 dwellings, have been completed for a number of years. No formal play areas have, as yet, been provided for these developments.

‘It has been understood, and agreed by officers, since the initial masterplan submissions for phase three that it was appropriate to amalgamate the, as yet unmet, play provision for phases one and two with the development of the larger phase three proposals and as a result provide a coherent overall layout and new play facilities for all of the existing and future residents as part of this wider and more ambitious housing development.’

Officers reported the housing developer had been working on its play strategy for the whole site in consultation with the local school to  provide play areas for phases one and two as well as the new phase three.

Shedding more clarity on the situation this week, a Link spokesperson said: ‘As part of phase three of the Dunbeg development, Link will provide play space provision for 375 homes.

‘Link is seeking approval from Argyll and Bute Council to transfer the obligation to provide play space adjacent to phases one and two from their own respective planning conditions, to the planning conditions of the phase three development which is currently on site.

‘This is because all the play areas are being delivered as part of this construction phase. Groundworks for the first play parks have begun on site and Link is working with the contractor, MacLeod Construction, on the phased construction of play areas to tie in with the adjacent housing completions.

‘The current proposals include eight equipped play areas, a multi-use games area and an unequipped open amenity area which will provide areas for all ages.

‘Layouts for the initial play areas have been submitted to the planning authority for consideration and other areas are undergoing detailed design.’

In 2019 children from Dunbeg Primary School were visited by Link representatives, during the session children voted and commented on their favourite pieces of play equipment.

‘These play areas will be the kids’ vision and that will be well worth the wait,’ added Councillor McKenzie.