District News, April 1 2022

Plans for a new community hub in Port Ellen have been given the go-ahead.
Plans for a new community hub in Port Ellen have been given the go-ahead.

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Community hub given go-ahead after no show from objectors

Plans for a new community hub on Islay have been given the go-ahead – after all 37 objectors failed to attend a virtual public hearing.

The plans by South Islay Development (SID) will also see children’s play areas relocated and additional motorhome spaces installed at the site on Charlotte Street in Port Ellen.

Despite 37 objections having been registered with Argyll and Bute Council, none of those making them was in attendance at a virtual public hearing on Thursday, March 24.

The authority’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee agreed unanimously to grant planning permission for the development, with one councillor describing it as one of the easiest decisions he had ever made.

Oban South and the Isles councillor Roddy McCuish said: ‘I take full cognisance of the 37 objectors, but none of them want to come in front of the committee and put their case forward.

‘I think this is one of the easiest decisions I have ever made. SID consulted with the community, which is a good way forward, and this is definitely progress and will enhance the area that is there already.’

South Kintyre councillor Rory Colville, who is chair of the Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Islands area committee, was also among those on the PPSL committee.

He said: ‘I am delighted to support everything that has been said. As a councillor of some 19 years, I am acutely aware that more and more communities expect the council to do things when it doesn’t have the money.

‘The work you have done, I would bite your hand off for it. It is tremendous that you are working as a community – that has to be the way forward.

‘There is funding available and this will be a tremendous boost for the area. I am 100 per cent in support of this application.’

Helensburgh and Lomond South councillor David Kinniburgh, the area’s provost and the committee’s chair, added: ‘I agree with Councillor Colville – this is the way forward for communities.

‘I am always impressed by the presentations of our planning department but I am also impressed by the one we have seen from SID.

‘I fully support the application. It is an enhancement to what is already there. I am disappointed that no objectors have used their right to appear before this committee; I find it quite extraordinary.

‘I have no hesitation in granting this application and I wish you every success.’

He then moved that the application should be granted, with Isle of Bute councillor Jean Moffat seconding, and planning permission was unanimously awarded.


New funding to improve island infrastructure

The Scottish Government has announced a £4 million funding package to help improve infrastructure on Scotland’s islands.

The capital investment will be allocated to the six island local authorities with island communities to fund the improvement, creation or safeguarding of locally developed infrastructure projects.

The funding is part of the £30 million Islands Programme, established to support the implementation of the National Islands Plan – a landmark strategy to improve the quality of life for island communities with 13 objectives, and more than 100 specific measures to address population decline, tackle climate change and improve transport, housing, the delivery of public services and digital connectivity.

Speaking at the Convention of Highlands and Islands, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Islands Mairi Gougeon MSP said: ‘This funding is complemented by ongoing planned investment which is designed to support those living on Scotland’s islands and will involve communities in the decisions on how and where investments are made.

‘The economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on our islands. The many challenges that communities have faced have been varied and that is why I am committed to delivering the National Islands Plan in partnership with our island partners.

‘I know that by working together, we can maximise the impact of our investments and support good, solid projects that will help islanders to thrive.’