THE latest attempt to develop a disused bowling green in Finnieston has been refused by planners despite a big reduction in the number of flats.
The proposal by land owners Nixon Blue was the third to be drawn up for the former Corunna Bowling Club in St Vincent Crescent which is classed as a protected open space, although there is currently no public access to it.
The application — which attracted 366 objections — was for 20 apartments, a mix of two, three and four-bedroom units, plus duplexes, in a five-storey building, with underground parking
Compared with previous applications, there was a much larger open garden and amenity space proposed to the front of the development for use by residents and the local community.
But city planners in their report said: “The proposed development will result in an unacceptable loss of protected open space and adversely impact upon the character of the St Vincent Crescent Conservation Area.
“We welcome that the building scale has reduced from previous applications and that the building plan form has improved and the quality of accommodation proposed appears to be quite high. Nevertheless, this is not enough to outweigh the fundamental land use principle and conservation area issues.”
They continue: “The applicant has, in both their initial submission and their later additions sought, rather unnecessarily, to inform the planning authority that planning decisions have to be based on a broad assessment which takes into account a whole range of factors. They have also stated that planning is about taking decisions which take full account of the visions for the next 20 or 30 years and produce good places for the future .
“Whilst we are happy to acknowledge that the aims of policies should be given weight along with the detailed content and criteria therein, the simple facts are that this piece of ground is protected open space in a part of the city which is recognised as short on greenspace and which has an ever-growing residential population.
“In terms of the 20 to 30-year timescale, it is the retention of this open space in an ever densifying inner-urban area which therefore takes priority over another 20 flats and a reduced area of publicly accessible semi-private garden.”
Officials further state: “Whilst Glasgow City Council receive, and generally approve, a large number of local housing applications each year (we determined 167 in the 2019/2020 financial year) on none of these other sites did we have an existing use protected both in Open Space and Conservation Area terms and for which the Scottish Government have recognised a Community Interest in the land in question.
“If the City facilitates the loss of the limited areas of inner urban open space that we are already protecting we will struggle to achieve the Strategic Outcomes of the City Development Plan.
“Such reasoning on the part of the authority is not a ‘tick-box approach’ as described by the applicant. It is the application of the detailed policy criteria in the City Development Plan to achieve the long-term aims and objectives of the local authority
“As such we again cannot support the re-development of this site for residential use, the third time GCC Planning have now reached this same recommendation since 2018.”
The detailed reasons for refusal state that the development would not “better serve the local community or enhance the value of the space” which meant it was contrary to policy.
The decision notice further stated: “The bowling club contributes to the character and appearance of the St Vincent Crescent Conservation Area and the applicant has failed to demonstrate that the existing building/club is incapable of viable repair and re-use.
“The applicant has failed to demonstrate that community engagement was undertaken to gauge the level of interest in and viability of the continued use of the premises as a community facility.”
The position of the building would “neither preserve nor enhance the character of the St Vincent Crescent Conservation Area”.
The proposal also failed to deliver the minimum levels of open space provision required and failed to achieve appropriate privacy standards for the ground floor flats.
The latest application compared with 36 flats in a seven-storey block in a previous propposal which the developer itself withdrew just days before it was due to be considered by councillors. Planners had recommended refusal of that proposal.
Nixon Blue’s first plans for the site — which were refused in 2019 — were for a nine-storey building with 39 apartments.