The 10.6 hectare site comprised broadleaf woodland which was designated as a site of importance for nature conservation but was nonetheless allocated for residential development in the local plan. The reporter agreed with the council that it was not obliged to grant planning permission if the proposal would have unacceptable effects. He also agreed that committee members’ local knowledge and the views of third parties were material considerations that it had to take into account. However, in a situation where all of the agencies with formal responsibility for the matters the council identified as unsatisfactory had concluded that those matters were acceptable, he found it essential that the decision-maker should set out explicitly how it had had come to the conclusion that local knowledge and the views of third parties should prevail.
No evidence had been provided to demonstrate that the proposal would, in fact, add to traffic congestion in the area and no evidence had been provided to support the council’s conclusion that this would lead to traffic related pollution at a level that should not be accepted, the reporter noted.
On the matter of wastewater treatment capacity he found that, although Scottish Water was content with the proposals, it was reasonable for the council to have concluded that some of its concerns had not been fully addressed by means of the desktop study submitted by the appellant. However, it had not demonstrated that its concerns could not be addressed by a suspensive planning condition. The final reason for refusal asserted that there was insufficient classroom capacity in local schools to accommodate children from the development and that the use of temporary accommodation to address this would be unacceptable. On the first aspect of this objection, the council’s position ignored the response of its own learning and leisure services team that the shortfall in school capacity could be addressed by means of a financial contribution from the developer, the reporter recorded. Further, the council had provided no evidence to support its assertion that this would require the use of temporary accommodation and that this would be unacceptable.
Reporter: David Buylla; Written representations