By Lucy Ashton
Planning officials at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority have cautioned people against buying plots of land that they may be unaware are not suitable for development.
The warning comes as the National Park Authority takes planning enforcement action to investigate unauthorised development activity within the National Park.
Planning Contravention Notices have been issued requiring detailed information on unauthorised works carried out on land between Stroneslaney Road and the River Balvag near Balquhidder at the heart of Rob Roy Country.
Unauthorised engineering works have been carried out including significant re-profiling of the land and works to create a vehicle access and track, with no planning permission sought or granted for the work.
Separately, six plots at the same site are being marketed for sale at auction. These plots are in an area at risk of flooding so any development would be unlikely to receive planning permission.
The case is the latest in a number of such cases, where land in desirable locations is advertised for sale at an attractive price, promoting the area’s amenities and location, without any reference to the requirement for planning permission or the planning constraints that are very likely to make the land unsuitable for development.
Stuart Mearns, Director of Place at the National Park Authority said: “Any development work within the National Park requires planning permission. Unfortunately what we are seeing is plots of land being sold to people who are not fully aware of these constraints and are left deeply disappointed when they cannot, for example, use the plot to build a new home, a holiday home, park motor homes or put up a small storage shed.
“On this specific area of land near Balquhidder, work has gone ahead without planning permission in place so we are taking action to investigate this work, with a view to restoring the land to its original condition and preventing any further unauthorised work.
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“Equally concerning is that plots of land on the wider site are being marketed for auction, without detailing the significant constraints of the site. Anyone purchasing these plots would be very unlikely to receive permission to develop them as they are in an environmentally sensitive landscape where there is a risk of flooding.
“Anyone interested in purchasing these plots should seek advice from suitably qualified persons or seek the National Park Authority’s planning advice in the first instance.
“It is disappointing to be in this situation as we did provide the owner and occupier of the land with advice in respect of the planning process and the risk of flooding. The significant constraints on the land have also been highlighted.
“Enforcement action is a last resort but one which we don’t hesitate to take where the correct planning procedures are not followed. We hope to engage the owner and occupier in positive discussions in order to resolve this matter.”
In 2020, planning enforcement action was taken against a site near Gartocharn, where small plots had been sold without highlighting the significant planning constraints on the land and where unauthorised work was carried out.