Councillors give go-ahead for Hallmoss conversion

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BUCHAN councillors have gone against the recommendation of Aberdeenshire Council’s planners and give the go-ahead for the change of use of a steading to a house at Hallmoss, Inverugie.

Full planning consent was being sought for the alterations, extension and change of use by applicant RARE Homes Ltd, of 43-45 Burnett Street, Stuartfield.

In a report to councillors earlier this year, planners said that the existing building did not have a roof with limited remains of granite walls still standing.

They said it was not clear what the previous use of the building would have been, nor its roof span, but it would have been a traditional building in the past.

Records from the council’s contaminated land officer indicate the previous use was a smithy. The site is located immediately south of the Rora to Hallmoss public road.

To the east of the site are two new houses approved as replacement houses some years ago. Otherwise the site lies within an area characterised by a scattered development pattern of traditional houses and also some replacement new build.

The applicant proposes to reinstate the roof of the main building in slate, build up walls in granite and connect the two remaining buildings together.

A large infill rear extension with flat roof and extensive glazing is also proposed together with construction of a further rear wing.

Planners said that the main planning issue was the principle of development at this site.

In this case the existing building by virtue of the ruinous condition, could not be classed as being ‘largely intact’ while no structural engineer’s report has been submitted to demonstrate whether the remains are structurally sound either.

They said it was debateable whether this largely ruinous building meets these requirements. Aside from this basic issue, there was also the question of whether the design respects the original character.

Planners considered that the proposal did not accord with council planning policies and guidance for conversion of non residential vernacular buildings in the countryside, largely due to the fact that there was not a largely intact building on site, and on the basis that the new development would be much larger/of different design when compared with the original low profile building which would have stood there in the past.

Refusal was recommended, but councillors opted to visit the site before making a final decision on the application.

And at Tuesday’s meeting of the Buchan area committee, councillors gave their backing to the proposed house.

Councillor Albert Howie told members: “I thought it would be unwise to refuse this application as it has the potential to be a nice development.

“There are two houses there already built by the same builder and to me I do not think it should be classed as ribbon development and I support the application.”

Councillor Fiona MacRae agreed, stating: “To allow this application to go ahead would save a building from deterioration.”

Councillor Robert Thomas also voiced his support. He told members: “I cannot see any reason why this cannot be seen as a steading conversion.

“Although it is against council policy in the purist form, it’s near enough and I think it would certainly be an honourable exception. I would second Cllr Howie.”

However, Councillor Sam Coull moved refusal of the application stating: “The building is in a ruinous condition and there’s nothing to say that it’s structurally sound.”

Having failed to get a seconder for his amendment, members agreed to give the application the go-ahead.