An application to build 12 new flats and three retail units on a gap site in Kyle of Lochalsh was refused this week due to concerns about overdevelopment.
The Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association proposals centre on a gap site on Main Street and the former Mace Shop on the corner of Main Street and Station Road. Parking for the development would have been provided by reconfiguring
the current car park at the Lochalsh Leisure Centre – 125 metres away – to create 12 new spaces.
A total of 15 objections were received from 15 different businesses and households, while general comments were received from Kyle Community Council and the manager of the Lochalsh Leisure Centre. Two late notes of support were also submitted.
The main area of concern for objectors and councillors was parking, or the lack of it, but the plans were recommended for approval by planning officers. Other concerns centred on a loss of light to neighbouring buildings; the height and design of the building; road safety; and the commercial impact on existing businesses.
Addressing the north planning committee on Tuesday, Lochalsh councillor Biz Campbell expressed anger at the proposals when parking is already an issue in Kyle – especially for those trying to access the medical centre on Station Road.
She said: “The medical centre serves many villages locally, and parking is at crisis point in Kyle as it is. There are a high number of people who can’t get parked at their medical centre. I am in favour of development there but not on this scale – it is far too big. To say there is parking is stupidity. People working in Kyle park at the swimming pool. There is no access for disabled people at the medical centre. Businesses in Kyle are disadvantaged by parking as it is.”
Skye councillor Drew Millar added: “Kyle has a huge problem with car parking; people park as close as they can to their homes.”
Highland Council planning officer Graham Sharp agreed that parking was an issue in the village but reminded the committee that it was not the applicant’s duty to solve that problem.
Committee chair Councillor Isobel MacCallum said that the plans were for an “attractive development in what is an ugly site”. She added: “There are lots of Highland villages where parking is an issue. I don’t think 125 metres is far personally and the overall benefit outweighs the disadvantage of parking.”
Councillor Campbell then put forward a motion that the application be refused on the grounds of overdevelopment of the site and the adverse effect it would have on neighbouring businesses. This was carried by eight votes to two.