PORTINCAPLE: Plans for housing on Loch Longside were unanimously rejected by Argyll and Bute councillors

Old Whistlefield, Susie’s Castle and the new housing plans for Portincaple.

By Rory Murphy

Plans for housing at Portincaple have been unanimously rejected by Argyll and Bute councillors.

The proposals for 12 houses were recommended for approval by planning officials, but more than 1,100 people objected.

The news was welcomed by MSP Ross Greer, who gave evidence at the hearing and highlighted the empty Ministry of Defence buildings revealed by this website.

A motion submitted y local councillor George Freeman, which said the plans by Pelham Olive were out of character in a sensitive area, was agreed unanimously by the council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee.

Addressing the  seven-hour meeting, which was held via Skype, Mr Greer urged councillors to follow existing planning policy, which he said this development would breach.

Afterwards the Green MSP said: “I’m thrilled that councillors unanimously backed our community campaign against this development.

“Building here would have threatened a big section of Atlantic rainforest and local wildlife. Once changes like those are made, they’re irreversible.

“I know that the architects are enthusiastic about using renewable energy and developing energy efficient housing and I hope that they will find more appropriate locations for these constructive ideas.”

Cllr Freeman’s motion said the plans should be refused because:

It did not comply with policies and no information has been provided by the developer or the MoD on housing need that would justify departing from policies.

The ‘relatively insignificant’ contribution via a commuted sum to affordable housing in the Helensburgh and Lomond area provide no benefit to the Portincaple settlement, and weighed against the negative impact of the proposed development.

This did not merit consideration of an exceptional case status to justify any departure from policies.

Wild goats and basking seals are part of the landscape and wildlife at Portincaple. 

Portincaple is a sensitive area and within an Area of Panoramic Quality, and the development and its scale are out of character with the existing form and layout of the village – policies require these villages and settlements to be protected ‘and also to ensure that new developments respond to their existing form and layout and as such, would have a negative impact on this unique community’.

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie had said that she understood residents’ concerns and was happy to assist in any way possible.

That area of Loch Longside is well known for two things – the Green Kettle Tearoom and Susie’s Castle, where an old woman lived in an upturned boat on the shore.

There are white deer to be seen in the woods there and seals basking on the shore as well as extraordinary birds and wildlife.

There was a measured mile out on the loch for testing submarines from the base and in summer families from Dumbarton and Helensburgh braved the midges to go camping and fishing there for mackerel and rock cod.

They also gathered pails full of mussels and whelks at a time when the loch was free of the pollution which has blighted it in recent times.

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