Planning chiefs have put their own council bosses under the spotlight over the thinking behind controversial plans to knock down a former Angus sheltered housing complex and replace it with fewer homes.
They have asked the blunt question of whether bulldozing 25 homes at Edzell’s now empty Inglis Court to create a 21-house scheme is sustainable or the best use of public cash.
Councillors have already backed the £3.5 million regeneration project, but it is still to clear the planning hurdle.
Last year, an Angus developer’s £250,000 bid to buy the former sheltered housing complex and re-develop the flats was rejected.
The planners’ probing questions over the wisdom of demolition is part of growing opposition to the demolition plan.
It has been branded “unnecessary” by the local community council.
In his query to housing colleagues, development standards officer Walter Wyllie says: “It would be helpful for third parties, consultees and elected members to be provided with an explanation regarding why demolition rather than reuse of Inglis Court is being proposed.
“Why is demolition and rebuild the most sustainable form of development?
“And why does the proposed development represent the best option in terms of best value and use of public funds?
“This matter is likely to be something which will be raised at the development standards committee so an explanation would be helpful for all.
“It would also enable this matter to be addressed thoroughly in a committee report.”
Community council opposition
Inveresk Community Council’s objection states: “It is a strongly held view locally that demolition is unnecessary and would be a poor use of scarce resources.
“This is on the assumption that the building is structurally sound and could be adapted and made fully fit for purpose at much less expense than by way of demolition and new build.”
Angus Council’s policies and management of the building have been as much the cause of reduced demand as a response to it.
Inveresk Community Council
The group suggests there is still a demand for sheltered housing in Edzell.
They cite the removal of wardens as the first step in Inglis Court’s decline, followed by a lack of maintenance and putting younger tenants alongside the old and vulnerable.
“In short, the view is that Angus Council’s policies and management of the building have been as much the cause of reduced demand as a response to it.
“Inglis Court could again be a thriving facility, well integrated socially with the local community and serving principally older people with strong connections with the local area.
“Instead, ways of making constructive use of the building should be fully explored, preferably by refurbishing it as updated and fit-for-purpose sheltered housing with tenancy support officer support,” say the community council.
The plans were lodged by the council’s housing department last November and have now passed the February determination deadline.
Angus Council confirmed Inglis Court is now vacant but could not give a firm date for when the planning application will come before councillors.