Planners set to recommend rejection of Portgordon housing bid

Objectors lobby Richard Lochhead MSP and local councillor Margo Howe.

Moray Council planning officials are set to recommend that a controversial housing development should not go ahead because of coastal flooding risks.

Opinion in Portgordon has been split with one local group formed to protest against development along the shorefront – and another formed to back it.

The row started in July last year when local landowner Gemma Campbell submitted plans for a two-stage development that would create a new cafe, renovations to the historical ice house, a boatyard and nine new homes.

A group of residents formed the ‘Save our Portgordon Beach’ group and lodged objections to all aspects of the plans, meeting with local MSP Richard Lochhead. Following a meeting with Mr Lochhead, Ms Campbell withdrew her applications pending further consultation.

Meanwhile a second group was formed backing the proposals, insisting that Save our Portgordon Beach did not speak for everyone in the community.

A new application was made that dropped the housing development aspect – and following a public hearing and changes to the proposal they were passed by Councillors.

Earlier this year a renewed application for housing on the shore front was lodged by Ms Campbell that again split opinion in the community in two. Now the Council Planning Committee will consider that application this week – and a recommendation by officials that it be rejected.

In a report before the committee on Tuesday councillors are told: “The applicant has failed to demonstrate that the development will not be at risk from coastal flooding.

“The proposed houses would result in an overdeveloped, cramped appearance – to the detriment of existing historic green open space.”

Earlier this month Maureen Burrows from the Portgordon Development Facebook group, formed by local residents backing the proposals, commented: “I’m beginning to think some of the save our beach people need to get back in touch with the estate agents who sold them their houses.

“They obviously did not know when they bought them that they did not have gardens and would have to find somewhere to dry their clothes.”

Referring to comments for and against the scheme as it passed through the planning stages, Ms Burrows added: “I’m not looking at the ‘for’ and ‘against’ for a balanced view, half of them were written by folk who don’t even live in the village.”

However, Pringle George, one of the leaders of the Save our Portgordon Beach group, had previously insisted that objections to the housing had nothing to do with the land being used as a drying green.

On the decision by planning officials to recommend rejection of the homes plan she said: “The council officers are the experts and they have looked into this matter very thoroughly.

“We can only hope that the councillors are sensible and listen to the advice they have been given.”

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