Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Councillors reject plan for housing on War Memorial Field

A controversial proposal to build a housing development on Ardrossan’s War Memorial Field has been rejected by North Ayrshire Council’s Planning Committee.

As revealed by in October, Trustees of the field, which sits opposite Ardrossan Academy on Sorbie Road, submitted a planning application in principle for the erection of a new clubhouse and pavilion for Ardrossan Academicals Rugby Club, the formation of car parking and the construction of a three-storey building containing 21 flats.

At last week’s meeting of the Planning Committee, Council officers indicated the local authority had received 10 letters of objection to the proposal.  The meeting also heard from Ardrossan Independent councillor John Hunter who also expressed opposition, citing the loss of open space in the area, issues relating to traffic management, potential noise problems and that he believed it would be inappropriate to allow housing to be built on a field purchased as a memorial to those who gave their lives in time of war. 

Saltcoats & Stevenston Independent councillor Ronnie McNicol, seconded by Ardrossan SNP councillor John Bruce, moved that the application be refused on the basis that it was “contrary to Policy ENV12 of the Local Development Plan as it would set a precedent for the incremental loss of open space”.

There were no other proposals from committee members and it was agreed that the application should be refused.

In October when Trustees of the War Memorial Field submitted their planning application, reported that it was not the first time permission had been sought to build housing on the field.  Previously, a submission in the name of Memorial Field Trustee Wylie Nicol – the same person whose name appeared on the new application – sought to amend the North Ayrshire Local Development Plan to change the Memorial Field’s designation from ‘open space’ and to allow a housing development on the land.

On that occasion, North Ayrshire Council also rejected the application, stating, “Scottish Planning Policy (CD/21) states only where there is strong justification should an area of open space be developed either partly or fully for a purpose unrelated to its function as open space.”

The War Memorial Field was formerly part of the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Golf Course, which, during the Second World War, had been used primarily to grow food for the war effort.  The part nearest Ardrossan Academy had housed an anti-aircraft battery.

Following the war, a group of former Academy pupils bought around 10-acres of the former golf course, turning it into rugby pitches for the use of pupils and ex-pupils of the school. understands purchase of the land for a War Memorial Field may have partly been funded by public donations, with then pupils of Ardrossan Academy involved in raising money.

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