BY BILL HEANEY
Plans for 68 new homes on the old prefab site at the Monument in Cardross Road, which later became Notre Dame High School, which eventually merged with St Patrick’s to become Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School, were expected to be approved by West Dunbartonshire Council this week.
If they were then I hope the councillors looked before they leaped before giving this project the go-ahead since they could have given permission for this development to take place on the other side of town at Sutherland Drive in the Crosslet timber housing estate off the A82 opposite Silverton.
Now that would be embarrassing for the Council which is trying hard to shake off its basket case reputation which the Labour Party unfortunately inherited from the SNP when they won the local government election in May this year.
Note to Council officials and councillors: There is no Sutherland Avenue, although there is a Sutherland Drive, which was named along with Argyll Avenue to pay tribute to the then British Army regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, when they received the freedom of the town.
Pictures of the women who built the Blackburn flying boats during wartime and housewives and families who lived in the Blackburn prefabs in Castlehill in the 1950s.
And Sunderland Avenue, which does exist and is in Castlehill, was named after the flying boats, which were built in the Blackburn Aircraft Factory in Castle Road, Dumbarton, during the Second World War.
The “prefabs,” prefabricated bungalows were also built in the aircraft factory as temporary homes in Castlehill.
For me, the Council getting things wrong or making errors in spelling and documentation and becoming mixed up is nothing new. I have been covering local government in Scotland for more than half a century.
Two errors they made recently were with the late Prince Philip’s name, which had an extra L in it, and that too was embarrassing for the Council in their reporting of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Then they made a similar error with the spelling of Campbeltown in their report of Dumbarton Football Club’s 150th anniversary exhibition at Dumbarton Library and Heritage Centre.
The Council are not alone. There is a television series being made at the moment which involves a couple who made a bid for the wrong house at an auction and ended up buying a wreck which they are re-building from the ground up.
However, most people who put pen to paper or fingers to a laptop are usually well aware of the possibility that such errors lurk constantly in the background. And they are semper vigilo about that.
Campbeltown and Philip are along with accommodation two of the most frequently mispelt words in the English language. Most people who write anything for a living know this.
Anyway, I was looking through the application by Persimmon Homes to build 68 houses on the old demolished school and prefab site since my first reaction to seeing it was dismay.
That could not be right, I thought to myself. It would bring even more chaos to Cardross Road, which is a traffic nightmare at the moment – and has been for years.
The new housing development, we are told, would stretch from the Cunninghame Graham Memorial Park, right, (locally known as the Monny) and Sunderland Avenue, to the former sports pitch for the school – which is to be retained, with a pavilion added.
Under the plans, 27 three-bedroom detached homes would be built, along with 18 three-bedroom semi-detached, 15 two-bedroom mid-terrace and eight three-bedroom end terrace properties. The final remaining part of OLSP, the vacant janitor’s house in Cardross Road, would also be demolished under the plans.
I have asked if the Council planning committee had agreed to back the plans, which seems almost certain since there is a report from the top planning official recommending that they should.
The report adds that four objections have been received, with concerns including traffic congestion which will be exacerbated when the development of 81 new homes at Clerkhill on the opposite side of Cardross Road.
If approved, a new vehicle access point for the Persimmon site will be created from Cardross Road.
Add this to the current access sites to Cardross road from the Helensburgh end of town you have a recipe for chaos, especially in the morning when people are going to work and school. And again in the afternoon, obviously.
The report adds: “The redevelopment of the site will consist of the demolition of the last remaining structure that formed a part of the old school complex, namely the vacant janitor’s house in Cardross Road at the southern boundary of the application site. Its removal will enable the formation of the new vehicular access to the site.
“The current vehicular access from Hawthornhill Road will not be retained as part of the development although pedestrian connections (paths) are proposed to Hawthornhill Road.
“The formation of access in Cardross Road will also require the relocation of the existing signalised pedestrian crossing approximately 200m east to accommodate a new right-turn lane to serve the development.”
Can you imagine what will happen if they add to the madness that currently exists at the Flagpole at the foot of Brucehill Road and the the traffic lights and turning points at the bottom of Castlehill Road and the crossing for St Michael’s Primary School?
The report concludes: “The site is within an existing residential area and, subject to the appropriate use of conditions, the proposed development is acceptable.
“The layout and design of the development has been developed to ensure that it integrates with the existing residential form as well as creating a high quality development which enhances the local residential area as well as improvements to the footpath and greenspace networks.
“The development will provide high quality housing with good connections to the surrounding area and wider green network.”
And the band played believe it if you like.