A bid to kick-start the long-awaited redevelopment of the sprawling Strathmartine Hospital site will be considered by councillors.
More than two years after Scottish Ministers gave the green light for permission to build more than 200 homes there, a special full Angus Council meeting will be asked to approve a range of changes to planning conditions aimed at allowing progress on the project.
They include a masterplan approach to new housing and a shift of focus for listed buildings on the site.
Pupil rolls at Strathmartine Primary and Forfar Academy will rise
Planning chiefs are recommending approval of applicant Healthfield Developments’ bid to vary conditions around the existing permission.
They say it will give the scheme the best chance of finally happening.
The April 2018 permission allowed for 26 flats in the derelict hospital’s listed buildings and 198 new builds.
The applicants have set a maximum of 184 new builds and changed the listed buildings plan to 12 family homes in the converted hospital accommodation.
The initial phase would see the listed buildings renovated to a wind and watertight state, but enabling development is said to be crucial to offset a projected £1.2 million net deficit in their redevelopment.
The risk associated with not allowing any new-build development in association with ongoing works to the listed buildings is that the development does not take place.
Angus Council planning boss Kate Cowey
Friday’s full council meeting will also consider the level of an education infrastructure contribution the applicants will have to make.
The completed scheme is forecast to add 42 primary-aged youngsters to the roll of Strathmartine school and 31 secondary pupils to Forfar Academy.
Education officials say that while the new Academy at Forfar community campus has sufficient space, the hike at Strathmartine would put the primary well beyond its 50-pupil capacity.
Reduced developer contributions of £5,519 per new build for primary infrastructure and £4,894 for secondary provision are being suggested by council education chiefs.
Angus officials have emphasised that the application only aims to vary planning conditions and the 2018 permission in principle remains in place.
Number of local representations submitted
However, a flood of objections from locals have repeated concerns around issues including road safety.
Angus planning boss Kate Cowey will tell councillors: “This is not an opportunity to revisit the acceptability of the principle of this development, there is an extant permission in place.
“Angus Council and Scottish Ministers have both determined that this proposal has potential to offer significant benefits that justify granting permission contrary to the provisions of the development plan.
“They also make provision for a revised timescale for completion of works to the listed buildings.
“While there is a risk associated with those revised timescales, it is accepted that in the circumstances of this case the revised timescales are likely to make the overall development more viable and consequentially deliverable.
She adds: “The release of new-build plots in conjunction with works to the listed building would generate some financial return at an earlier stage.
“The risk associated with not allowing any new-build development in association with ongoing works to the listed buildings is that the development does not take place,” she adds.