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The Scottish Government

Directorate for the Built Environment

Area 2-J (South)

Victoria quay

Edinburgh

EH6 6QQ

 

Dear Sirs

Re: Planning Application TP/ED/14/0510  and intention to grant by East Dunbartonshire Council

We write on behalf of Kirkintilloch Community Council in relation to the above planning application made by East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC) under the Town and Country Planning (Notifications of Applications) (Scotland) Direction 2009

Our purpose is to raise objection, and to draw attention to the objections raised to date and in effect highlight a number of deficiencies in the consultation process. It also seeks your support in rejecting the application made by EDC, on the grounds that there are strong arguments in relation to the harm this development would do and that its acceptance goes against recognised planning protocol.

 

Before going into the detail of the objections it is noteworthy that the consultation process was poorly publicised and lacked any depth in terms of real partnership with stakeholders. Lack of publicity and, admittedly, a transitional period for our Community Council, meant that the matter passed by unnoticed until the last minute when it was too late. This despite the Leader of the Council and other elected members attending our fortnightly Community Council meetings and failing to bring this matter to our attention, despite having full knowledge of the interest there was in this matter. This is not in the spirit of consultation given the position that the Community Council should hold.

Notwithstanding this, there were still 163 objections made to the application, with only 1 response being in favour of it. It is therefore our belief that if there had been greater opportunity for consultation, the number of objections would have grown to a significantly higher number, and we are left wondering if this low-key approach was a deliberate ploy on behalf of the Council.

At the special planning hearing convened to discuss the application the views of objectors were ignored. Incredibly, so were the views of EDC’s own planning officers who recommended that this development did not go ahead. This is indeed very troubling as it seems EDC have decided against the wishes of the community and the recommendations of those tasked with assessing appropriateness of applications, to press on. Are they really completely unaccountable for their actions in this respect?

The objections raised can be summarised into the following categories:

1.       Conflict with other local development plans

The application is in direct opposition to the EDC Kirkintilloch Town Masterplan. The town masterplan is spearheading the regeneration of Kirkintilloch’s Town Centre by coordinating efforts and pumping valuable millions of pounds into regenerating the area around the main, central streets. The proposal goes against all that is in this masterplan, as the focus of the activity in regenerating the town centre is, unsurprisingly, in the centre. Not creating another hub of economic activity outside, but in close proximity to, the town centre. It is completely nonsensical in this respect. (A matter raised by planning officers).

2.       Effect on the local economy

Related to the point above is the devasting effect that this development would have on the local economy. Kirkintilloch high street, like many similar towns, has a high street which is in decline. A supermarket development outside of this area could only have a seriously negative effect on the local economy. We cannot stress enough how this could be the deciding factor in the future of the town centre, with local traders clearly opposed to such a development as it would remove valuable passing trade away from them.

3.       No requirement for another supermarket and previous rejections

The communities of Kirkintilloch and neighbouring Lenzie are more than adequately served by supermarkets. Indeed, there have been a number of applications in recent years for such developments. All of which have been knocked back on the basis that they are not required. What unsurprisingly appears to make this one different is that EDC have a financial interest in this site and so are looking for an opportunity to sell it. It would surely call into question the ability for EDC’s planning board (who are made up of all elected members in the Council), to act in a fair and objective fashion when making decisions in relation to this matter.

4.       Local Transport strategy

There has recently been significant investment in building a bypass road round Lenzie/Kirkintilloch to take traffic away from the main road that this proposal sits on. This has worked to a reasonable degree. The only impact of placing a supermarket, petrol station and other retail on this road would be to bring back traffic into this area. Why would the local authority wish to go against previous good work done in this respect?