PLANNING: COOL RECEPTION FOR FLATS PLAN FOR OLD GLENROY HOTEL

The new houses for which planning permission is being sought on the site of the old Glenroy Hotel (inset) in Balloch Road.

By Democrat reporter

Plans to replace the old Glenroy Hotel in Balloch Road, which runs through the Loch Lomondside village, with a mixed development of modern homes and shops have received a cool reception from the public.

Like many tourism related businesses on the Bonnie Banks, the now named Lomond Park Hotel, which has a nightclub now incorporated into it, has been struggling to keep going through the coronavirus pandemic.

However, residents of the village, some of whom have lived there for many years, would rather not see the back of it.

And nor, according to letters they have written to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs Planning Authority, would they like to see more houses and shops in what they consider to be an already over-populated area.

The owners of the Lomond Parke want to demolish the hotel and build a three-storey block, including 26 homes and a shop, in its place.

A planning statement in support of the application says there is “no market interest for the existing use as a hotel or tourism business”.

The hotel has been forced to significantly scale back its operations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact Covid-19 has had on the local and national hospitality industry.

The statement in support of the plans, drawn up by Fife-based Gray Planning and Development Ltd, also says the hotel’s viability will be put at even greater risk if Flamingoland ever comes into being.

There is the possibility that that controversial, potential major £30 million development at the nearby West Riverside and Woodbank House site is still a possibility if the plans are altered.

The planning statement explains: “The proprietor [of the Lomond Park] has had to contribute her own funds to maintain solvency and works in the hotel for very long hours with little reward.

“The proprietor has attempted to sell the business in recent times without success.

“A further blow to viability is the considerable stress of existing public health and social-distancing measures put in place because of coronavirus – i.e. reduced capacity for hospitality services, reduced operating hours, reduced custom, and the compounded and hence very considerable impact these measures have on the business’s existence.”

The application proposes a mixture of one- and two-bedroom flats, which the supporting statement says tackles the issue of the supply of starter homes for first-time buyers in the area.

The statement adds: “Where the proposal does not fully comply with the development plan, then the supporting and justification statements address these matters and clearly demonstrate the case.

“This is made specifically in relation to the loss of hotel, the need for starter or first time homes, the need for affordable homes, the benefits to the public realm and wider environmental amenity with new high quality designed place on this prominent location.”

Comments on the plans can be made until November 24; a decision is expected on or by December 19.

However, some comments have already been posted on the Park Authority’s planning website.

Miss Kayleigh Roberts, of 58 Nobleston, Alexandria, said: “Balloch needs all the jobs and services it can get and losing the grounds to residential would be disastrous.

“Job prospects here are dire already especially for young people just starting out.

“In addition to this, the area and surrounding [area] is packed with residential already and is becoming noticeably overpopulated as it is.

“Perhaps a positive would be to welcome a fresh building and business in some form of retail or food/ drink service.

“The flats across from Balloch House Hotel were all singing and dancing with shop outlets on the ground floor.

“These outlets have lain empty since completion which is an absolute waste, and surely another similar build would flop too as I suspect the rent charges would not be manageable for ANY local business to flourish.

“Final point is no to residential and yes to keeping Balloch’s business going.”

Miss Erin Murphy, of Broomley Crescent Alexandria, said: “Turning a hospitality business into a residential property/properties is a bad choice for Balloch.

“Jobs are limited in Balloch and there are few choices for food and drink as it is.

“The new build flats across the bridge has space for businesses which have never been used- to suggest this for idea again is stupid. Leave it the way it is.”

Miss Sarah Devonport, of Oakburn Walk, Alexandria, said: “Balloch itself is overpopulated as it is [and] more housing in this particular area would be less than beneficial.

“A new building/business along the same lines as the previous business there would benefit the area a lot more as there are few areas within walking distance for those of us who enjoy socialising activities.”

Ms Lorna Martin, of Munro Street, Alexandria, said: “There is an existing block of flats nearby with ground floor retail space which is unoccupied. The description in the plans does not appear to include accessible homes.

“Instead of building another block of flats with ground floor retail space they should consider that potential buyers may be seeking ground floor accessible properties.

“Are the needs of those less mobile or able bodied not a consideration of the developers?”

Long-time Balloch resident Ms Margaret Nutter, Kilmorich, 14 Balloch Road, said: “I am concerned at the number of flats proposed.

“Although convenient for train, bus and cycle track car parking is provided suggesting more car turning off and onto Balloch Road.

“The elevation to north does not entirely seem in keeping with the style of Balloch Road.

“Until very recently there has been no three storey building on Balloch Road.

“I have seen many changes in the road having lived here since my father purchased the house in 1945.

“The Lomond Park (previously Glenroy Hotel) was the adjacent property until Craiglomond Gardens were built in 1980s.”

Finally, Mr Andrew Barber, of 87 Clairinch, Balloch, said: “[This is] taking the heart and soul out of Balloch. There are many retail units available within Balloch Main Street and this application will only hinder tourist trade in the area.”

To view the proposals in detail, search the National Park Authority’s planning website for the application code 2020/0266/DET.

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