Reporter upholds Blebo house appeal

A couple have won planning permission to develop a two-storey residential property in the village of Blebocraigs, near St Andrews, despite strong local opposition.

They successfully appealed against the failure of Fife Council to determine their application for the erection of the house, the conversion of an existing bothy to a domestic workshop and garage and temporary siting of a residential caravan at Balgonie.

Reporter John Martin, appointed by Scottish Ministers, said in his findings that the determining issues in the appeal were the effect of the proposed dwelling on the character and appearance of the village by reason of its scale, design, materials and access arrangements, and its impact on the living conditions of neighbouring residents by reason of overlooking and loss of privacy.

Mr Martin stated that, subject to a change of roof covering on the main house and restoration of the bothy, the proposal would respect the existing residential character and appearance of the village.

In relation to overlooking and loss of privacy of neighbours, he added that while he understood the appellants’ wish to provide wide sitting out decks at ground and first floor along the western flank of the house, with large sliding patio doors giving access to them from the dining room and lounge, it was bound to create a feeling of “unacceptable overlooking and loss of privacy” to the next door property.

He added: ‘‘I appreciate that there are semi-mature trees on the common boundary that currently prevent any direct visibility between the properties, but this does not diminish the direct overlooking of the neighbours’ garden that would be available from these positions.”

In considering the conditions proposed by the council in the committee report he found them generally acceptable.

However, he also ruled it necessary to impose conditions to remove the balcony, external stairs and first floor patio doors on the south west elevation to overcome the overlooking and loss of privacy in the neighbours’ garden, to be replaced by a pair of side windows which would retain some of the light lost but minimise the risk of overlooking.

With regard to the siting of the caravan, planning permission is not strictly required for it to remain on site in connection with, and for the duration of, the building works. However, until those works commence, it has been stationed on the land unlawfully, so planning permission is necessary for its retention pending commencement of construction.

Several villagers were against the application, pointing out that previous plans were for a one-and-half storey house, and on grounds of its design and compromising the privacy of neighbouring properties.

Kemback, Pitscottie and Blebo Community Council also objected, principally citing the visual appearance of the proposed development and its relationship to the surrounding area.