Councillors, an MSP and hundreds of residents have hit out at a decision to allow CALA Homes to build 135 homes on a canal site at Jellyhill, Bishopbriggs.
The Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) has granted permission for the controversial development despite it being unanimously rejected by East Dunbartonshire Council’s Planning Board after a record 569 objections from local residents during a year-long battle.
Ross Greer, Green Party MSP for the West of Scotland, said the decision was a “major kick in the teeth for the local community”.
He added: “This shows perfectly how the planning system is rigged in favour of developers who can apply and make use of the second chance if the council say no.
“The local community don’t get this second chance and I urge my fellow MSPs and the Scottish Government to join me in backing the proposed amendments to the upcoming Planning Bill to fix this and give communities a real say in decisions like this which affect them more than anyone.”
A spokeswoman for Save Bishopbriggs Canal Greenspace campaign group, which has more than 700 members, said: “We’re very disappointed”, adding that the Reporter did not appear to have taken all matters into consideration.
She added:“There were 569 letters of objection, a refusal by East Dunbartonshire Council, the Coal Authority repeatedly stated it is a high risk area and CALA did not take into account important issues, yet these were all disregarded.
“The reasons for refusal by councillors include overdevelopment, a significant rise in traffic and detrimental impact on secondary school facilities.
“It raises the question of what’s the point of having democracy and spending taxpayers’ money on planning policies and procedures when they’ll be overridden by the Scottish Government?”
Planning board chairman Billy Hendry said he too was extremely disappointed the board’s decision had been overturned.
He added: “I’m also disappointed about the refusal to allow a public planning hearing which would have afforded local residents the opportunity to put their views directly to the Reporter. This is something which the Planning Board requested numerous times.”
The Reporter has advised he will defer determination for 13 weeks to enable the relevant planning obligation to be completed. This includes a requirement for a Section 75 legal agreement to secure local road junction improvements; improved footpath along the site-side of the canal; on-site affordable housing; monies towards secondary school education, A803 corridor works and upgrade of football pitches.
Bishopbriggs North Councillor Gary Pews said he was disappointed and angry that the Reporter ignored the unanimous wish of the council for a public hearing.
He added: “I feel very sorry for the residents who fought a very professional and dignified campaign. Even though CALA have won their appeal, I hope they will take the objectors concerns on board, even at this late stage.”
CALA Homes (West) said it welcomed the latest news and said it was confident the development would boost the local economy.
Graham McNeil, Land Director for CALA Homes (West), added: “We are pleased with this positive decision from the Scottish Government. We look forward to working with the council on progressing a development that will bring with it many community benefits.”
CALA said 36 affordable homes will form part of the plans and “a new village green with children’s play space and associated play equipment.”
There will also be “a linear green corridor adjacent to the canal-side in order to maintain, encourage and further promote wildlife and ecological diversity in and around the canal edge”.
Homes will range from one-bedroom apartments through to five-bedroom homes.