Councillors have voted to proceed with the demolition of the former Brookwood Library in Bearsden in order to develop an early learning centre.
At a special meeting of the planning board on Tuesday, September 24, which was called due to a delay in reports being available at the previous meeting a week earlier, councillors agreed to go ahead with the project, which is part of the work being undertaken in East Dunbartonshire to comply with the Scottish Government policy to provide 1140 hours of funded nursery or childcare provision by 2020.
The council’s tree officer had expressed concern regarding a century-old copper beech tree at the site and located within the Bearsden Conservation Area. In the officer’s opinion was the development could not be carried out without damaging or destroying this tree.
The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency also objected in principle on the grounds that insufficient information on flood risks had been provided. According to their flood map, SEPA argued there was a “medium to high” risk of flooding at the site.
SEPA said: “Based on the information presented, the main flood risk posed to the site is not from the section of the burn flowing adjacent to the site. There is a flooding mechanism upstream, where flood waters leave the channel and flow along Drymen Road, which creates a potential to impact to the site.
“Consequently, the Flood Risk Assessment has tried to best represent all features on Drymen Road in order to better capture the flood process, where computational link lines have been used to represent the kerb line.”
However, council officers disagreed with SEPA and deemed these objections were not grounds for planning permission to be refused because of various factors, such as the presence of a boundary wall which would prevent flooding. Even without the wall, the flood risk assessment showed that any potential flooding would not exceed a depth of ten centimetres.
The council’s own flooding officer also felt the development was acceptable, based on local knowledge and consideration of the site rather than SEPA’s in-principle approach.
The council’s traffic and transport officers made a series of recommendations , including a crossing point on Manse Road featuring dropped kerbs, landings and tactile paviors to aid pedestrians and improve access to public transport. They also called for improved vehicular access onto Manse Road, also including dropped kerbs and tactile paviors as well as a wider pavement on the east side of the site.
The subject of air quality is also of concern though not a material planning consideration as it is covered by separate legislation. The council’s air quality officer noted that Bearsden Cross has been undergoing air quality monitoring for many years, which has shown pollution to be generally within acceptable limits, barring one period in 2016 where building alterations temporarily changed traffic flow in the vicinity of the site, are not being exceeded.
The same officers also requested a condition in the planning permission to include a half box junction between Manse Road and Drymen Road.
Bearsden North independent councillor Duncan Cumming was the main voice of dissent in this decision. He proposed an amendment seeking additional work be carried out regarding the pedestrian access and air quality issues, seconded by Councillor Gillian Renwick, but this was outvoted 14 to two.