A senior Scottish Government officer examining plans for a controversial 1500 house development in Perth has raised serious concerns about possible flooding at the site.
The Pilkington Trust which wants to build the sprawling Almond Valley development on the western edge of the city has appealed to the government after Perth and Kinross Council refused planning permission.
Allison Coard, the planning and environmental appeals division Reporter examining the case, has taken the unusual step of writing to interested parties to determine the flood risk, which will have a strong bearing on her decision.
She asks if appropriate flood risk avoidance can be achieved on the site without reducing the area to such an extent that it would “compromise” the delivery of a housing development.
It is the latest twist in a saga centred on land between Ruthvenfield and Huntingtowerfield that has rumbled on for around 20 years.
Ms Coard has highlighted “previous concerns” about river bank erosion and issues regarding the north bank of the planned development site.
The effect on the site of the new relief link road between Perth and the A9 by-pass is also raised.
She writes: “The protection in place on the river bank may be coming to the end of its expected life.
“Housing is proposed in this area and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) caution that a further assessment of flood risk is undertaken after completion of the Western Link Road (near McDiarmid Park).
“Issues are raised with the sluice which forms part of the flood protection scheme and from surface-water-run-off and ground water levels at various locations.”
She continued: “Based on all of this, Perth and Kinross Council’s planning officer recommended approval. However, the council as the flood protection authority, concluded the Almond Valley proposal was contrary to their development and flooding policy as the site includes an area of known flood risk.”
Ms Coard has asked to be assisted in her understanding of the “flooding issue” regarding Almond Valley with a series of searching questions.
These include questions regarding a sluice gate, road improvements works and other work to address erosion being part of a risk management plan.
“What assurance is there that issues raised can be addressed and is there a timescale for this?” Ms Coard asks.
Alastair Wood, Savills’ head of planning in Scotland, acting on behalf of the Pilkington Trust, said: “We are pleased with the approach being taken by the Reporter who is focusing in on the key issues. We are confident that the close examination of the evidence on flooding will support the views of the applicant, Perth and Kinross Council and SEPA.
“Good progress is being made.”
SEPA said the case is currently with their hydrology team for their observations and Perth and Kinross Council refused to comment on the matter.