MSP Rona Mackay and others have thanked the Scottish Government for considering an independent report into development plans for Tower Farm in Torrance.
Plans were put forward for 140 new homes in Torrance by Hallam Land Management in June 2015 but were rejected by the council in December that year.
Developers then appealed and in October 2016 their concerns were heard and site visits were carried out then and in January 2017. In March 2017, the independent reporter finished his report deciding the development should not go ahead and ministers approved of the verdict and announced on June 1.
The Scottish Government stated in the rejection letter:
4. Ministers have carefully considered the evidence presented at the hearing and the reporter’s report. They accept the reporter’s overall conclusions and recommendations and adopt them for the purpose of their own decision.
5. Accordingly, Ministers hereby dismiss the appeal and refuse planning permission in principle for the proposed residential development with associated infrastructure at Tower Farm, Back O’Hill Road, Torrance, East Dunbartonshire.
The reporter gave several reasons for the rejection in the Overall conclusions section:
4.85 Subject to my conclusions on effective housing land supply in Chapter 7 of this report, I conclude that the proposed development is contrary to LDP Policy 3, as the site lies within the green belt, and the proposal does not fall within any of the exemptions envisaged in the policy.
4.86 I also conclude that the proposal does not relate well to the following green belt objectives, in particular, which are set out in the development plan: supporting regeneration; protecting the natural roles of the environment; protecting and enhancing the character, landscape setting and identity of settlements; and the defensibility of the green belt.
4.87 The green belt boundary, which includes Tower Farm, was the outcome of a wide-ranging assessment as part of the preparation of the new Local Development Plan. The boundary at this point was confirmed by the Reporters who examined the Proposed LDP. I agree with their conclusion in relation to Tower Farm.
Residents of Torrance have been campaigning to save the area, under Keep Torrance a Village.
MSP Rona Mackay said: “I am very glad ministers of the Scottish Government have put the nail in the coffin of this proposed development of Tower Farm.
“Given most of the land around the village has been bought up by developers, the approval of this application would have set a precedent for others eyeing up this beautiful greenbelt.
“Well done to Keep Torrance a Village, who fought tooth and nail to preserve the identity of their village.”
Council leader Gordan Low said: “The Tower Farm proposals was a massive development that would have reshaped Torrance as we know it forever.
“It was not only incompatible with the council’s local development plan but following consultation it was clear the residents in Torrance did not want it.
“I thank the Scottish Government ministers for following the objective recommendations from the planning reporter and rejecting the appeal.”
John Nicolson, SNP candidate for re-election, said: “I’m glad that this issue is finally resolved. Torrance residents should be congratulated for the tenacious manner in which they fought their case.
“They were dedicated, motivated and well-informed. They had right on their side and I am pleased that the Scottish Ministers acted on the independent reporter’s recommendation in coming to a decision.”