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Council / SIC says Lerwick home planning appeal should be dismissed

The proposed development would be behind the church, which is located on the left of the road in this picture. Photo © Stuart Taylor (cc-by-sa/2.0)

SHETLAND Islands Council (SIC) has now responded to an appeal lodged against planning refusal for a new house in Lerwick – saying that the original decision should stand.

It relates to the refusal of full planning consent for a single-storey dwelling on land behind the church at Clairmont Place.

The application for the small two-bedroom house – located just within the Lerwick Lanes Conservation Area – was refused by councillors on the SIC’s planning committee in April, who felt concerns over parking and traffic in the area had not been fully addressed.

There was also concern raised over the health and safety of residents during construction.

The decision, which went against the recommendation of planning officers, was appealed by the applicant and taken to the Scottish Government.

The council has now had its say on the appeal, highlighting that councillors on the planning committee are entitled to take a decision against the recommendation of officers.

“In this respect, when representing the interests of their electorate, councillors can take a wider viewpoint, and apply their knowledge of: the site, the proposed use and its wider ramifications, in contrast to the more technical view taken by relevant council officers,” the appeal response said.

“The reason for the decision taken at planning committee is therefore valid in the planning application determination process.”

It highlighted that previously granted planning permission in principle came with a condition that the building shall not be used at any time as a “separate residential unit or for holiday let accommodation”.

The documents say the applicant lives at an adjacent building on Clairmont Place.

“It is therefore important to note that the proposal that is the subject of this appeal differs from that granted planning permission in principle previously,” the SIC’s planning response continued.

“In this respect, the appellant is effectively seeking the deletion of the above noted occupancy restriction such that the building could be used as a holiday let, rented by third parties or sold off as a separate residential unit, as opposed to only ancillary use by family and friends.”

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The council also noted that the appeal documents feature a general site parking survey that was not included with the planning application.

“In this particular case, councillors attached a different weight to the relevant planning matters before them to that applied by planning officers in their considerations,” the response said.

“Councillors considered that the proposed use would create a health and safety issue for neighbouring residents in relation to construction materials being transported into the site and that despite the temporary nature of this issue and the prospective imposition of a condition for no development to take place until a construction management plan was approved by the planning authority (in consultation with the roads service), that it was unacceptable overall.

“In addition, councillors considered that there was the prospect that additional car journeys to the proposed use could add to roads congestion and parking pressure on surrounding roads because visitors to the proposed use would be likely to drive to the site.

“The council’s road service comment on the ‘general site area parking survey’ is that the submission only provides a snap-shot of a particular point in time within the locale of the site.

“However, the survey is not reflective of what the council would consider to be the time when any parking pressure would be highest and the survey is not a robust parking study.”

It concluded that “on the basis of the above, Shetland Islands Council maintain that the appeal should be dismissed and planning permission refused”.

The Lerwick Congregational Church also responded to the appeal process saying that it still holds concern about the development.

“Access to the proposed dwelling being limited, could result in damage to our property,” a representative said.

At the planning committee meeting earlier this year, some local residents spoke about the impact the development could have on parking availability in the area.

In a previous submission the the applicant’s agent Née Gibson Architects said it felt the decision of the council’s planning committee was “unjustified” when taking into account planning policy.

The agent also said it felt that “committee members had made their decision prior to the hearing”.

They noted that previous applications for building conversions and extensions in the last ten years have been submitted to the local authority within the Lerwick Lanes Conservation Area and have been approved.

The appeal has been designated to a Scottish Government reporter, with a site inspection lined up as part of the process.

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