News from the districts – April 9, 2021

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Argyll and Bute

New planning administration fees have been introduced by the council, with effect from April 1.

The move comes after a decision made at February’s Argyll and Bute Council budget meeting.

Announcing the charges, the council said it encourages the submission of planning and related applications online using the Scottish Government’s e-Planning portal.

The local authority added: ‘From April 1 there will be an administration charge on any applications submitted as hard copy that are capable of being submitted via the e-Planning portal.

Full guidance can be found on the planning page of the council’s website.

Kintyre

There are fears that Southend Primary School could be permanently closed due to a declining school roll.

The Campbeltown Courier, a sister title to the Argyllshire Advertiser, understands that at its June 10 meeting Argyll and Bute Council’s Community Services Committee will be asked for permission to mothball the school.

The council is then expected to go through the formal process of closure as per the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

Councillor Rory Colville said: ‘While I understand a letter has gone out to parents, no decision on closure can be taken until a comprehensive consultation has taken place with the local community. I believe such consultation will explore all options, including the need for keeping facilities local.

‘Education provision plays a key role in attracting new, economically active families that are required to halt the decline in our rural depopulation.’

Councillor Donald Kelly said: ‘As someone who secured capital funding to have the school building refurbished, and who fought on two occasions to prevent closure, this is a very sad day indeed.

‘Unfortunately, falling school rolls are a big problem in many rural areas throughout Argyll and Bute.

‘In order to help sustain our rural communities, I have been continually asking the housing associations to consider building new houses in villages such as Southend, which would have helped attract young families to the area. Sadly, this has never been done.’

Arrochar

The owners of an Arrochar guest house have applied for a change of use to a residential property – after the property attracted not a single bid during a year on the market.

Fascadail House, on the village’s Church Road, became a guest house 30 years ago and was put up for sale in March 2020.

A report revealed that just six viewings took place during the past 12 months, with no offers to buy the property as a guest house.

Owners Kevin and Anne Bax have now applied for the change of use to Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, with a decision due by early May.

A report by planning agents MH Planning Associates quoted a pre-application enquiry to the park authority which was submitted in October 2020.

It said: ‘Discussion with the tourism adviser at the National Park highlighted that there is in fact a lack of alternative provision within the local area of Arrochar.

‘There has been a reduction in the number of service accommodation premises in recent years with fewer guesthouse and B&B operators in the Arrochar and Tarbet area and a decline since 2006.

‘The loss of the Fascadail Guest house would reduce the overall accommodation capacity in the area which has already experienced closures of accommodation in 2020.

The park authority responded in the report that it would have to be demonstrated that a change of use from guest house was acceptable, which may be possible if no suitable offers were received to continue as a guest house.