Kyles Hydro plans approved at hearing

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At a Statutory Pre-Determination Hearing for the proposed development of three detatched dwellinghouses on land formerly occupied by the ground of the old Kyles Hydro, a unanimous decision was taken by members of Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee to approve the plans with full backing.

The hearing took representations from Steven Gove of the planning department, Brian Stewart from Stewart Associates on behalf of the applicant, from objectors Mr Peter Beedle and Jacqueline Williamson on behalf of Mr Mark Markov (who submitted a petition with 75 signatures to the council in objection), and from Bute councillor Robert Macintyre.

Mr Gove told the hearing that the proposal would not interfere negatively with the overall nature of the site. “It is considered that the detatched nature of the dwellinghouses and their two-story scale would not be out of place with regard to existing neighbouring properties”, he said.

With regard to the loss of 27 trees from the site, Mr Gove added: “The trees to be removed are poorly formed, self-sown specimens of mainly birch and sycamore which have become established in the formerly more open, landscaped grounds of the hotel following its demolition.

“Furthermore, the development proposes the planting of 13 heavy standard trees with a mixture of Birch. Ash and Beech which will help assimilate the proposed dwellings into the landscape.”

Mr Stewart, on behalf of the applicant who is only listed as Excel, explained to those in attendance, a little of area’s history, detailing where the original Hydro was sited, the depth of tree cover behind and in front of the hotel, as well as the topography of the site. In addition to this, Mr Stewart said that the company has received many favourable comments, and have spoken to several parties interested in the properties.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Markov, Mr Beedles said: “Mr Markov views the area as a unique community to the island. People have access to it for leisure, in the summer the air is filled with the sound of children laughing in the area. Also, it’s teeming with wildlife such as buzzards, barn owls and bats.”

With regard to the road, (which the planners have stated will be surfaced, widened, with the inclusion of passing places, and with drainage), Mr Beedles said: “We’ll have traffic coming all the time, and this will have a negative impact on wildlife. The road will change the nature of the area. From the people I’ve spoken to about it, many have negative reactions towards the proposal, and on behalf of Mr Markov, I would object to it.”

Mr Beedle added: “You’d be changing the nature of the track. If it’s widened, if drainage is added, or if trees are removed, you’re changing the habitat of the wildlife in the area. People walk their dogs along here, there are birdwatchers – if you add three houses to this area, you’ll intimidate anyone who wishes to walk there. It’s an amenity which is so rare, and it should be used to promote the area.

Cllr Macintyre, speaking in support of the applicant, said: “I’ve represented this area since 1995 - North Bute Primary is a thriving school, a number of local businesses operate here also. It’s a must for the area, and I give this application my full support.”

After a considerable question and answer session which allowed the committee to ask questions of the planners, applicant and objectors, the hearing ended with each of the parties summarising their views, leading to the committee taking a vote on whether permission would be granted – a unanimous vote was received and the plan for three houses on the site of the former Kyles Hydro was approved.