Arran – A Sense of Place

Printed below is the recently published – A Sense of Place – from the Arran Civic Trust. It sets out their view on how the development of the island should go forward, taking into consideration the needs of todays population as well the historical significance of the built and natural environment.

1 No place, mainland or island, can stand still. Change and development are constant and should be welcomed. The key question is – can development be appropriate and be to the benefit of people living here?

2 Old buildings which have a historical resonance should be renovated and, if necessary, extended rather than demolished to make way for new build.

3 To survive villages need to have a diverse population – we must provide housing where young people, families and older people want and can afford to live. Comfort, energy efficiency and low maintenance are critical alongside aesthetics. When a village is gutted of people there is no ‘sense of place’. The proportion of holiday homes on Arran is increasing in the face of local housing need. There needs to be a financial disincentive to owning a holiday home.

4 Landscape and natural habitats make Arran special and have economic importance. Planning must aim to preserve them.

5 New buildings in the countryside should respect the landscape, snuggling into it rather than sitting prominently on it. NAC’s Design Guide for buildings in the countryside is helpful. Is it being used? New very large houses, intended as holiday homes, are often out of place. As with all new built there should be a degree of sensitivity to the built environment around it.









Images show the Terminal at Loch Ranza (L) and the Arran Outdoor Education Centre, Lamlash (R). Both are new builds, constructed with sensitivity to the environment around it. 

6 There should be a focus on creating a more diverse economy to support successful communities so that tourism is only part of Arran’s development.

7 Much farm land on Arran is underused or totally neglected. Productive agricultural land use should be encouraged.

8 Until recently the Church communities were an important feature of island life. Churches which are due to close will need to be repurposed and new ways of inclusion developed.

Track leading towards Sannox church

9 Prevent ribbon development from the villages along the coast and encroachment on NSA, SSSI and special areas of conservation, eg. Machrie Moor, Mountains of North Arran and coastal areas. The distinctive feel of the villages needs to be respected so that new build is appropriate in scale and siting, using familiar materials.

10 Viable communities need to be supported. Public services, run by the local council, are vital to this end. Libraries, refuse and recycling collection, public sewage and water supplies, an active local council office providing assistance including registrar and social services, support for village schools and the High School plus accessible NHS facilities including the hospital, surgery, dentistry etc are all vital to sustain viable rural communities.

The complexity of services requires more and better cross communication between departments and organisations.

Villages, coast, moors, mountains, history, archaeology and geology are all part of what is unique to Arran.

11 Local and traditional place names (Gaelic and Scots) throughout the island and on new planning applications need to be maintained.

12 Development of schemes and projects which maintain the physical, social and cultural heritage of the island need to be encouraged.

13 Arran is an island with a character of its own with industries which are not all tourist dependent and should not be termed a ‘holiday isle’ but an ‘island which welcomes visitors’

JULY 2023



Images show houses around Arran. Featured image shows row of houses in Cordon. All image credits; ACT