Children’s home approved despite official advice

Planning Apps.
Planning Apps.

CONTROVERSIAL plans to transform Cairnryan House into a children’s home were approved by Dumfries and Galloway Council on Wednesday.

The home has caused concerns amongst local residents - not least over the way the council’s consultation on the plan was undertaken - resulting in several residents’ meetings on the issue.

One local man, who asked not be named, said: “It’s been a disgrace from start to finish. Why anyone would think this is the most suitable place for such a facility is utterly beyond me.

“Cairnryan has nothing to offer kids and what do bored kids do? They cause trouble.”

The house currently operates as a bed and breakfast business.

Thirteen individuals objected to the plans, mainly on the grounds of a lack of amenities for children in the village, but there were also concerns over road safety and the loss of a local business.

The council’s planners had deemed the house unsuitable for the intended purpose and noted in a report to the planning committee that it failed to meet three out of the four required criteria.

The failures were - meeting the needs of locals; easily accessible by transport links and footpaths and the lack of nearby healthcare facilities.

The report’s author, Peter Barker, said: “Whilst the proposal does meet some of the required policy tests, these are in respect of the more minor elements whereas it fails in terms of meeting the fundamental principals of these policies.

“The location of the development is far from ideal. The objectors have raised numerous issues of concern, but particularly those of the locational disadvantages they have identified which are both understood and shared.”

Labour councillor Willie Scobie said that the public involvement with the proposals was below standard.

He said: “This really puts the question of public consultation into sharp focus. The complaint by Labour councillor Grahame Forster was upheld in that the consultation was flawed. What will the council do now that the recommendations by their own officials were overturned? Do they go back to stage one?

“It is now for the head of social work and the council’s chief executive to determine what to do next.

“The decision taken was in total contrast to the views of the people in Cairnryan and local councillors were not kept in the loop.”

But Mr Barker’s report added: “Some objectors raised concerns over the neighbourhood notification processes. However, the procedures used, which included an advert being lodged in the local press, were strictly in accordance with the appropriate regulations.”