159-home Perthshire development called-in by ministers

The Scottish Government will decide the fate of proposals for 159 new homes on the outskirts of Perth following concerns over the development’s transport links.

Councillors were poised to approve the Oudenarde development last week at a meeting of Perth and Kinross Council’s planning and development committee.

However, the Scottish Government seized control of the application at the eleventh hour following concerns that had been raised by Transport Scotland regarding how the proposed development would impact the nearby M90 Perth to Inverkeithing motorway.

Set on the site of the old Bridge of Earn hospital, the homes represent the next stage of an ambitious bid for a 1,500-home village. Hillcrest Housing Association has already built 109 affordable houses at Oudenarde.

The project is being spearhead by local construction firm GS Brown and was first announced more than 20 years ago. The Perthshire developer teamed up with Taylor Wimpey to submit an initial planning application for 159 two, three and four bedroom homes in Janauary last year.

Transport Scotland had raised concerns that the plan was about to be passed without paperwork in place to demonstrate how the new settlement will link safely to the M90.

The latest proposals went before councillors in October, but were due to return to the planning and development management committee for final approval.

Councillors were to be asked to withdraw a planning condition requested by Transport Scotland, calling for GS Brown to submit details of improvements for the M90/A912 junctions.

However, according to The Courier, Perth and Kinross Council’s legal team ruled this wasn’t a valid condition.

GS Brown chairman Geoff Brown said he received word about the Scottish Government’s intentions in an e-mail at 8.30am on Wednesday – less than two hours before the planning meeting.

“We’re really unhappy that this has happened so late in the day,” he said.

“We have – or had – a contractor in place to be on site by March. Obviously, what’s happened may have jeopardised this agreement and we will need to go back to the contractor and work something out.”

Mr Brown, who is the former chairman of St Johnstone Football Club, added: “We have to make sure that this delay won’t impact on jobs.

“In my career, I’ve never known anything like this to happen before.”

Before last week’s meeting, a Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We have been in discussion with Perth and Kinross Council and developers for over 10 years in respect of developments at Oudenarde, and would be concerned about the potential removal of the previously agreed planning condition.

“We have sought to promote development in accordance with the published Masterplan, whilst meeting the clear need to maintain the safety and efficiency of the road network, and this remains our position.”

A Scottish Government spokesman added: “The application for Oudenarde in Bridge of Earn has been called in by ministers due to the proposal’s potential impact on trunk road infrastructure and road safety.

“This application will be considered and a decision will be issued by ministers in due course.”