Brechin’s first new council houses for three decades will be built on the site of the town’s Damacre Centre after a failed eleventh-hour community bid to halt the project.
The last-ditch intervention to delay plans for ten homes — two two-bedroom, seven three-bedrooms and one four-bedroom — was branded “opportunistic” by critics at Angus Council’s development standards committee in Forfar on Thursday.
But the same objectors were also rounded on by some of the committee for their lobbying of local members which forced two Brechin councillors to take no part in the discussion on the future of the building, which became surplus to requirements following the opening of the town’s multi-million pound community campus.
Work is now expected to begin shortly on the demolition of a property the committee heard was not listed and could be knocked down at any time without planning permission.
The community representatives urged the committee to delay the planning decision to allow further consideration of its future under the Community Empowerment Act.
Speaker Mark Arbuthnott, said the town’s community council and 18 others had objected to the development and he highlighted issues including access and the feasibility of other sites.
“Brechin will lose the most historically relevant building of our heritage after Brechin Cathedral,” he said.
“This is opportunistic and of very little strategic value to the Brechin population.”
Montrose SNP councillor Bill Duff told objectors that he felt they had brought their objection to the wrong table, adding: “This is a planning matter and this is not the place to look at the rights and wrongs of the use of this building.
“You should perhaps have been petitioning the communities committee which made the original decision to transfer the building to the housing account.”
Arbroath SNP colleague Alex King said he considered the lobbying of committee members on the issue to have been “totally unacceptable”.
“I am very said that two Brechin members have found it necessary to declare an interest and leave the chamber. Given some of the comments made in relation to this application, I quite honestly would have been referring those to our legal department, and possibly the police.”
Council leader and Brechin Independent councillor Bob Myles remained in the chamber, but failed to find a seconder for an amendment to refuse the application on grounds of access and infrastructure impact.
“This has been a difficult issue for the community for some months,” he said.
“To move forward and demolish I feel in some ways is a bit premature. I would have moved deferral but I believe that’s outwith the capacity of this committee,” added Mr Myles, who recorded his dissent against the otherwise unanimous committee approval for the scheme.