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New restaurant and garden centre blow as controversial plans for Ayrshire site are rejected

September 7, 2021


A move to create a new leisure development in Fairlie has been knocked back.

Plans to build a garden centre and restaurant on a site near the North Ayrshire village’s bowling club were vetoed by councillors.

It came despite claims up to 30 full and part time jobs could be created.

Applicant David Castelvecchi tabled plans for the 5,100 square metre site on land to the north of Fairlie Bowling Club, off Main Road.

A restaurant and café facility, along with car parking and a garden centre — earmarked to occupy 407 square metres — with an external planting area, were included in the blueprint.

But the move was subject to scrutiny by North Ayrshire Council’s planning committee, thanks to a history of cat-and-mouse applications at the location.

The first, in 2001 for a new bowling club and garden/craft centre, was knocked back.

A follow-up application in 2010 for a bar and restaurant was also refused, before a similar bid was eventually backed by the committee in 2013.

But the permission lapsed in 2016 when development had not gone ahead, then a 2017 plan for 19 homes was rejected amidst fears it represented “unjustified development in the countryside” and could “set an undesirable precedent for other unjustified development”.

Scottish Government planners backed the council’s decision not to zone the site for development as part of their Local Development Plan.

The committee was told that the housing plan was not linked to the current applicant for the site.

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Planners recommended the latest plan for the site for refusal when it came before the committee last week.

Councillors heard that there had been six objections and one representation received concerning the plans, including worries over the impact on wildlife and loss of biodiversity, flooding concerns and fears over access and traffic.

But planners say that although a “very small corner of the site” is part of a Local Nature Conservation Site, it is not thought that “overall integrity” would be compromised. Transport Scotland also listed no objection.

The council’s chief planning officer, James Miller, told the meeting: “The claim is it would provide service facilities for the village of Fairlie, assist in the Covid recovery for the area and help encourage tourists, it also has the potential to create 30 full and part time jobs.”

But planners recommended refusal of the bid, noting that it contravened policies 15 and strategy policy 2 of the North Ayrshire Local Development Plan, as an: “inappropriate development which would undermine the setting of Fairlie”, with concerns over the “potential for visual and physical coalescence along the coast”, as well as fears it would “set an undesirable precedent for other unjustified development, and have an unacceptable impact on the Special Landscape Area”.

They say it would also be contrary to policy 17 of the North Ayrshire LDP for failing to “take account of the wider objectives” of Clyde Murshiel Regional Park.

Councillor Robert Barr disagreed with planning officers, telling the meeting: “My opinion of it is it’s just rubbish land, it’s not used for anything, it’s just sitting there, but that’s only an opinion.

“The planners have accepted and agreed to large housing developments in Fairlie, with little or no amenities, I think they have got one wee sandwich shop or something, I’m not going to propose anything, because you know I don’t successfully win proposals at planning but I’m just pointing out, it was accepted in 2013”.

Councillor Robert Foster moved that the application be rejected “for the reasons outlined in the officer’s report”, backed by Councillor Shaun Macaulay.

Dalry and West Kilbride Councillor Barr backed an amendment from Councillor Ronnie McNicol, backing approval of the bid.

Councillors, however, voted by five to four in favour of the motion to reject the plan.

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