We have two letters this month, one sent in by a local resident on the implications of a planning decision taken recently by NAC, and another from Katy Clark MSP, regarding the proposed timber transfer development at King’s Cross. The letter she sent to Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) outlining her concerns, is copied in below.
I believe the people of Arran and all who care about it urgently need to be informed about what might very soon happen to High Corrie.
Whilst it is very reasonable and right that historic buildings are made liveable how this is done should in no way detract from the character of the original building. Even more if that building is in a setting of some historical importance when nothing should be undertaken that would detract from the whole.
Goatfell Cottage in High Corrie is a case in point. The cottage, which is a listed building, has existed in a sort of quiet harmony with all the other buildings there. The whole group is indeed a conservation village with characteristics that are well noted as representing the last still surviving clachan dating back to before the Clearances.
It is not clear what future now lies in store for it.
Just over a year ago it was bought by a business couple from the Lake District. They must have known it was too small for their purposes especially as they were very soon featuring it as an “Artists’ Retreat” to be available in 2023.
At the start of November High Corrie residents received a letter from North Ayrshire. The cottage owners were applying to erect an extension. The architect’s image revealed something of considerable size nearly as long as the cottage itself and it showed an orange roof and black walls and very tall modern windows. A host of objections were immediately submitted.
The date for North Ayrshire’s decision had been set as 28th December. However on the 16th December North Ayrshire gave their decision. It was to accept the proposal. At the same time they showed the architect’s new image of the extension. He had withdrawn his orange roof, his black walls and his oversize windows. Roof and wall colour and windows now looked more in conformity with other buildings here. However it still made the entire building very much larger than any of the other cottages in the clachan. Seven of the cottages are single, two are double. Goatfell Cottage with its neighbour adjoined cottage plus the new extension would now become triple. In a small community like High Corrie this would both look and feel very out of place. It would throw the very heart of the clachan out of balance.
It was presented as a fait accompli. There was no forum now for any further discussion. So North Ayrshire were prepared to act against the express wishes of something like 98 per cent of what had appeared on their own site with hundreds of lines from people opposing the extension as against a grand total of 11 lines in its favour!
One might equally ask how the applicant could say to a neighbour it’s been accepted well over a month before North Ayrshire announced that they had accepted it? Or how Arran Community Council were able to say there were no objections from the local community days before any of the immediate neighbours had even received notification of the proposed extension from North Ayrshire?
There is very much in all of this that makes one wonder how far due process has been followed.
However at this stage the important thing is to make Arran residents aware that they might very soon have lost something so precious to the island.
Peter Finlay (High Corrie)
Katy Clark MSP
Member of the Scottish Parliament for West Scotland Region
2nd December 2022
Mr Andrew Hunt Regional Manager West Region
Forestry and Land Scotland Head Office Great Glen House
Leachkin Road Inverness
Our reference: KCFO-JR
Forestry Operations at Kingscross, Arran
Dear Mr Hunt,
I am writing on behalf of the local community at Kingscross near Whiting Bay on the Isle of Arran and following discussions with the group Friends of King’s Cross. Following Freedom of Information requests to Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) they have learned of the intention to create a timber stackyard and seaborne loading facility to export felled timber via Lamlash Bay. My understanding is this would be much larger than the existing facility at Market Road in Brodick.
Prior to FLS’ purchase, the land in question was used mainly for grazing, silage and arable production. As you may know, Kingscross is a particularly tranquil part of Arran, particularly attractive to tourists and hikers who are so valuable to the island’s economy. This is even more vital given the challenges the island faces around depopulation and an unreliable ferry service. The area also has direct views across to Holy Island, a protected landscape who will be affected by the industrial noise, which I understand that an Impact Report has stated will be considerable.
Some of the impacts of the proposals as laid out would be as follows:
• A new track will have to be constructed through the fields to the new stack yard above the slipway, but I am unclear what this route would be
• There is a potential of several lorry movements per hour throughout the workday on unsuitable narrow roads, which is described as a “severely restricted route” due to its tight bends and poor visibility
• Logs will be moved across the site using a noisy Liebherr 924 timber grab handler; every single log will need to be moved down and extremely steep slope for several hundreds of metres to reach the slipway
• Any jobs created by the facility will be negated by the loss of jobs at tourism businesses are area
• The natural topography of the water and tall rock face of Holy Isle that acts as a noise reflector would accentuate and reflect the noise back over King’s Cross, which was not included in the modelling carried out by FLS’ noise consultants
• There is a risk to adjacent native woodland, as well as rare flora and fauna in the area
• There will be a clear visual impact from various locations including the Arran Coastal Way, Holy Isle and Lamlash
Many of these concerns were already laid out when FLS elected to buy the site in the first place, with staff citing issues with access, neighbours, noise and roads, as well as presenting significant financial risk. As far as I can see, the proposals still do not appear to have been independently costed, which I would appreciate an appraisal on. Furthermore, there needs to be a firm strategy and costing for the development of the buildings that already exist on the site.
The multiple residents I have spoken to all raised these issues. At a recent public meeting, I am told that over 90% of residents expressed they were “very concerned” about the plans. One of the principal points they have made in their representations to me is that their issue is not that of development in theory but the specific rationale behind this particular proposal, which will have a profound effect on their businesses and their livelihoods. There are several sustainable proposals that residents suggested as alternatives that would benefit the local community, including a sawmill or a district heating system.
I would strongly urge you to consider these points given the strong feeling in the community against these proposals. I believe this would be powerfully conveyed in any consultation, assuming planning permission will be required. I would appreciate if you could provide more information on that point, as well as more detail on how much timber you anticipate will be felled, what the timescales are for the project and a full breakdown of estimated costs.
I look forward to reading your reply.
Katy Clark MSP
West Scotland Region
M01.10, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, E99 1SP