Sunnyside Hospital developers say Angus site could hold 500 new homes

© Andy Thompson

The multi-million pound redevelopment of the former Sunnyside Hospital is poised to take a major step forward after an approval recommendation from Angus planning officials for the sprawling site north of Montrose.

Development standards committee councillors meeting in Forfar on Tuesday will consider the bid for permission in principle relating to the mixed use development.

While officers say the broad concept is acceptable, there are emerging local worries about as many as 500 new homes being built.

Historic Environment Scotland has also flagged up early concerns over possible loss of listed buildings on the Sunnyside site, while acknowledging it is unlikely all of the 12 B and C-graded properties will be salvageable.

Sunnyside Estate Ltd has pledged to deliver a “distinctive development” to enhance the local area over the 26 hectare estate of what was once Scotland’s oldest and biggest asylum.

It was bought in 2016 in a seven-figure deal by the partnership involving Montrose-based Pert Bruce Construction Ltd and Edinburgh’s FM Group.

The applicant indicates the site is capable of accommodating 514 homes – built in four phases – but the report highlights the existing local plan which would limit development to around 265 homes in the current plan period, and a further 125 dwellings built by 2026.

Planning boss Stewart Ball, in his official report to committee states: “At this stage, the broad principle of redeveloping the site is considered to be acceptable.

“The nature and extent of demolition works required to enable the redevelopment to take place will be considered and determined separately however it is safe to presume at this stage that the redevelopment of the site will not be financially viable without new development to cross-fund the required conservation works.

The report continues: “The site undoubtedly presents challenges in respect of complex planning and built and natural heritage issues.

“This is a large brownfield site with notable mature landscaping and it would be desirable to see it redeveloped in order to safeguard and sustain the listed buildings within it and its mature landscaped setting.

“The Angus Local Development Plan advocates a development comprising a mix of uses and it is accepted that this may include a reasonably significant number of housing units.

“That type of development would provide opportunity for the formation of a sustainable community providing scope for residents to live, work and socialise within the site thus reducing the need to travel.

“Conditions are proposed that seek to mitigate impacts associated with the development. There are no material planning considerations that justify refusal of the application.”