Major Planning Consultations: Scotland
Alison Allighan writes:
Despite the economic downturn, 2009 has seen several major development applications arriving in the office on which advice is being sought. These have included the construction of new university campus buildings and housing at Craigie House, Ayr; the restoration, with the help of enabling housing, at Lathallan House, Falkirk; and the construction of the Replacement Forth Crossing, between Edinburgh and Fife.
At Craigie we had no objections to the principle of the current application, locating a major new teaching block in the Council’s derelict horticultural centre, formerly the walled garden of Craigie House, considering it would have minimal impact on the A-Listed house. Our concerns arose from the potential impact of the overall campus proposals on the designed landscape, particularly the loss of policy woodland to new buildings, car parking provision and access roads. The policy woodlands are currently in very poor condition, largely due to the ravages of Dutch Elm Disease. It is important that this problem is addressed now and a management plan put in place to renew and rejuvenate the woodlands so that they remain the characteristic feature of this estate on the banks of the River Ayr. They are the ‘glue’ that will eventually hold this development together, and without them there is a danger that the new campus development becomes a collection of unrelated buildings of varying architectural styles strung out along the river.
We welcomed the proposed restoration of Category B-Listed Lathallan House (formerly Laurence Park) and stables which are now derelict, and accepted that some limited enabling housing may be necessary to fund the work. However we had grave concerns over the location and style of the houses proposed. We considered that the urban mews-style development immediately adjacent to Lathallan House totally inappropriate for such a sensitive location, within the immediate setting of a B-listed building and in a rural location. In addition, the six houses proposed for the walled garden appear to be inserted into the garden walls, again unacceptable. The garden is an unusually curved structure, also B-Listed, currently intact, and such damage must not be allowed. Yes, the designed landscape is very degraded, but a sensitive restoration project with some enabling housing in the peripheral landscape is still possible.
Early in 2009 the revised alignment of the Replacement Forth Crossing (the new Forth Road Bridge) was unveiled. The addition of further access and exit slip-roads to the west of Queensferry may prove to reduce the potential impact on Dundas Castle and its designed landscape but are in danger of impacting further on Hopetoun House. Other designed landscapes which may be affected to a lesser extent by the development are Dalmeny and Newliston, and we await further details of the finalised proposals.