Opposition grows to housing at Ganavan

Ganavan sands

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Pressure is mounting on local councillors to reject any possibility of new housing at a cherished beauty spot.

At a meeting on Monday night, campaigners appealed to councillors on Argyll and Bute Council to come out against any development at Ganavan Sands.

While no formal planning application has been submitted, a large area – facing the sands – has been pencilled in the council’s local development plan two as a ‘potential development area’.

A meeting of Oban Community Council heard that any development there would represent an ‘appalling, inappropriate disaster’.

Alison Chadwick, representing the community group Friends of Ganavan, told the meeting that it was accepted that the area needed more housing but Ganavan was not the place.

‘We haven’t got anywhere else within a good distance of Oban which is walkable, cycleable and has good transport to and from the town,’ she said. ‘It’s not just for us, it’s for visitors to our area. Everyone is vehemently against this. Please save this area and its spectacular scenery.’

She said the area should never have been included in the Argyll and Bute Council plan in the first place, as it had started a ball rolling which could prove difficult to stop.

A developer has previously expressed an interest in the site and architectural plans drawn-up, she said.

The meeting heard calls for local members of Argyll and Bute Council, which represent Oban, to publicly declare their opposition.

However, some councillors who sit on Argyll and Bute Council’s planning committee, said strict rules meant they could not ‘pre-judge’ a planning application in advance.

Councillor Kieron Green, a member of the planning committee, explained that if he made any public commitment about his opinion, committee rules would bar him from participating in any decision should an application for Ganavan come forward.

Roddy McCuish, a long-standing planning committee member and former vice-chairman, said he would rather resign from planning than be party to any housing at Ganavan.

Councillor McCuish said: ‘I say that with a word of caution – am I better in the room or out of the room?’

Councillor Elaine Robertson, who also sits on the planning committee, said her position was ‘well known’ and she had worked closely with the Friends of Ganavan.

Councillor Jim Lynch, a member of Argyll and Bute Council, said he was not on the planning committee but was dead set against development at Ganavan.

Councillor Andrew Vennard said it was clear that people wanted Ganavan retained as a recreational area.

Laura Corbe, an OCC member, said any housing of any kind would be ‘extremely inappropriate’ for residents, the environment and would just add to traffic.

OCC member Frank Roberts said strategic planners needed to work for the people rather than ‘carving out their own career paths’ – oblivious to what the public might think.

Gavin MacLean said a ‘supposed consultation’ on the planning document was held at Corran Halls last year but nobody knew about it.

The proposed development plan for Argyll and Bute has not yet been formally adopted and requires scrutiny by the Scottish Government Reporter.