Port residents demand action

VILLAGERS in Port Bannatyne have demanded that action be taken quickly to improve the state of a derelict tenement building on their doorstep.

Argyll and Bute MP Alan Reid met concerned residents next to the Buckingham Terrace block of flats on Saturday - and was left in no doubt about the strength of feeling in the village about the dilapidated building.

The building - at 12-16 Castle Street - is owned by Glasgow-based developer Barryrange Ltd.Long derelict, its only residents are pigeons and vermin, with broken windows and extreme overgrowth of moss and weeds adding to the scene of dereliction.

Planning permission was granted in July 2008, to install windows in the building, on the condition that they be stained or painted white.

The windows installed were not of this type, and so a new application was submitted - but this was refused by the council because of the building’s presence in a conservation area, and an appeal against refusal was dismissed by the Scottish Government.

Concerns expressed by local residents during their meeting with Mr Reid on Saturday included the following:

- “The roof is falling down inside.”

- “This building won’t withstand another winter, and I’m very concerned that the whole thing will come crashing down.”

- “We’ve been forced to look at this for 15 years, and nothing has been done about it. It badly needs to be, at the very least, tidied up.”

- “If nothing is done to this building, the owner won’t be able to sell the two adjacent buildings, and he’ll therefore have no funding to do work on this monstrosity.”

In a letter to Mr Reid, the council’s development manager Ross McLaughlin says the developer is not in a position to replace the windows because of the large number of costs involved.

Mr McLaughlin’s letter, dated August 18, states that a number of ground floor windows have been modified to allow discussion with the planning service, and that an application to retain and modify the UPVC windows has been submitted, is under assessment and is likely to be determined in the next few weeks.

After speaking to the residents on Saturday, Mr Reid told us: “It is utter nonsense that the redevelopment of 16 Castle Street has been held up for two years because of arguments between the council and the developer over the windows.

“I couldn’t see anything wrong with the windows, and they’re certainly preferable to the broken windows in the other flats.

“All that the council and Scottish Government policies are conserving in this conservation area is dereliction. I feel very sorry for the local residents living next to these derelict buildings.

“It’s high time the council and the Scottish Government got together and put in place a programme of work to make these buildings habitable again, or demolish them if this is not feasible.

“I’ve written back to the council saying what a terrible state mess these buildings are in and demanding action.

“Granting the planning application that the owner of number 16 has submitted to alter the windows would be a good first step.

“Derelict buildings like these ones cannot be allowed to blight people’s lives in the 21st century.”