Balmaha affordable homes project gets green light

LOCH Lomond & The Trossachs National Park has approved a proposal to create 20 new affordable homes in the village of Balmaha on the banks of Loch Lomond has been approved.

The planning application, from Rural Stirling Housing Association (RSHA), which aims to address the demand for more affordable housing options in the area, was granted approval following yesterday’s (26 March) public hearing by the Planning and Access Committee of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority.

The development will be made up of 12 houses and eight flats and will include a combination of homes for rent, shared equity ownership and properties specifically to be rented to local workers. There will also be two plots available for self-build homes on the site.

The need for more affordable homes in the popular visitor destination of Balmaha was identified through consultation events with the community in 2013 and the development site has been allocated for housing through the Local Development Plan which was adopted in 2017.

The East Loch Lomond Community Trust (ELLCT) welcomed the decision having supported the RSHA’s plans since its inception – two of the organisation’s trustees spoke in favour of the plans at the hearing.

“Housing is a key issue in the National Park, which is one of the most expensive places in Scotland to buy a home” says Petra Biberbach, chair of the Park’s  Planning & Access Committee.

“This combined with the ageing population of the area, means it is increasingly difficult for younger, working age people and families to live in the Park. That has a knock on effect for the sustainability of communities.

“The need for more affordable housing has been identified by the community in and around Balmaha through consultation on the Local Development Plan and is something the Park and our partners aim to address through the National Park Partnership Plan over the next five years.

“Whilst some trees in the area will have to be removed to allow the development to go ahead, the trees earmarked for removal have been identified as young and not considered ancient woodland.  The mature oak trees which are the most valuable feature of the woodland will remain and further planting of native species at the site is planned.

“The National Park is a beautiful and important landscape, but it also supports living working communities that need well-considered developments like this to be able to grow sustainably and encourage younger, working age people to live and work in the area.

“We recognise that there have been strong views both for and against this proposal. This was a well-considered application and we are confident that the balance has been struck between creating much needed new homes in a way that is sensitive to the special qualities of the environment.

“This development is a great example of the vision set out in our National Park Partnership Plan being brought to life.”

 

In addition to native species of trees being planted on the site, a further one-and-a-half hectares of native trees will be planted in another area of the National Park as a compensatory measure for the trees that will be removed.

RSHA chair Margaret Vass tells G63: “This development will help to support the local economy and stem the depopulation of Balmaha due to the high number of second and holiday homes pricing local residents out of the housing market.”

It is expected that the 12 month build will move on-site next March (2019).

Author: editor

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