Perth and Kinross Matters: Anguish over housebuilding boom

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Perth and Kinross has one of the fastest growing populations in Scotland, but is this a positive or a poisoned chalice?

For years the growing demand for houses and the influx of new residents, many of them affluent retirees, has been heralded as an economic boost that other parts of the country envy.

A growing population should mean a more sound footing for local businesses which benefit from increased demand, hopefully creating employment and in turn a prosperous population.

All good so far, but some of the downsides of the popularity of Perth and Kinross are starting to be felt across the district.

The largest tangible change that will need to be embraced if Perth and Kinross is to harvest the economic potential promised is to accommodate new houses to meet demand — thousands of them.

Not just a few new homes here and there but major new developments such a Bertha Park on the outskirts of Perth — 3,000 homes over the next three decades — and the absorption of major expansion by communities across Perth and Kinross.

The realisation of what that will mean was brought home to the people of Luncarty in the last few days when a 650 house expansion was agreed despite a storm of protest.

In the coming years the village will double in size, radically changing its character in the process. Objectors claim it amounts to “urbanising” the countryside while the supporters (principally the developers) maintain the building is required to keep construction employees in work.

The voracious appetite for new homes shows little signs of abating and maybe this presents a danger of losing the charm and character of the settlements which make Perth and Kinross so popular in the first place.

Even more worrying will be the pressures unrestrained growth and an aging population exert on health services — something that will have an impact on everyone.