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More than 1,800 people so far have responded to a community survey on the future of Ganavan.
Friends of Ganavan who organised the survey say it has been a ‘phenomenal’ response and are urging people to keep having their say.
Out of the 1,809 people who took part in the Friends of Ganavan survey during August alone, 1,737 of them said they would consider building more homes on it as a negative move.
Campaigners who set up the Friends group to protect the much-loved area fear unless a change is made to a blueprint by Argyll and Bute planners shaping up how Ganavan could look over the next 10 years, more luxury housing could be built there.
‘It is a priceless asset. Once it’s gone we can’t get it back,’ warn the Friends.
Recreation is Ganavan’s biggest use for 861 of those who responded to the survey on-line and on paper with another 564 using it to enjoy the beach and the sea, other reasons to visit include the sports field, dog walking and more.
While 142 of the August respondents use Ganavan daily, 579 visit several times a week, 327 once a week, 545 once or twice a month with the remaining 249 making it an annual holiday destination.
And 1,134 who filled in the survey have been using the area for more than 20 years.
Armed with survey responses and huge backing to keep the green space free for the health and wellbeing benefits of Oban people and visitors, Friends of Ganavan are calling on Argyll and Bute councillors and officials to be be ‘visionary’ and to de-allocate the space from the proposed local development plans.
The council’s public consultation on its proposed Local Development Plan 2 (LDP2) ended in January.
That plan has outlined a large part of the Ganavan area as a Potential Development Area – P4023, meaning potentially houses could be built over the whole location.
‘Not one comment has been received (in the survey) that has said housing would be
positive in this area – in fact most respondents cannot believe it could even be
considered,’ said the Friends of Ganavan, who are lobbying area councillors and community councillors and will be taking the survey to MSP Mike Russel and MP Brendan O’Hara.
The Friends say there are not against more housing in the Oban area but believe homes could go up elsewhere. Anecdotally,they have heard any housing at Ganavan would be high-end homes not affordable ones.
If the land is preserved, in the future the space could be used for facilities that the town is ‘crying out for’ such as a skateboard park and cycle track, as well as supporting green tourism initiatives such as wildlife trails and interpretation boards.
‘There are lots of ideas,’ say the Friends.
It could be December or January 2021 before the LDP2 goes to Argyll and Bute Council for it endorsement. Submissions will also go to the Scottish Office reporter.
Speaking via Zoom to Monday night’s meeting of Oban Community Council, Alison Chadwick from the Friends of Ganavan said despite the LDPS document being made public and a consultation being held, the majority of people had no idea that potentially their Ganavan could be lost.
‘People are completely horrified. I think the survey speaks for itself. I would urge as many people as possible to continue filling it in,’ she said.
And added: ‘Decision-makers need to listen to what the people of Oban are saying about this.’
Councillor Elaine Robertson who was at the community council meeting said the survey’s response was ‘amazing’ and showed just how important Ganavan is to people.
‘I certainly would support keeping Ganavan, allowing it to remain an area of great beauty and for the good of the people of this area and our visitors,’ she said.
Community council convener Marri Malloy warned if some of the land was sold off for luxury houses it would push-out recreation-seekers who would just become ‘a nuisance’.
The Friends of Ganavan survey can be found at www.facebook.com/friendsofganavan/app/164167473601477