Developers have tabled detailed plans for the first phase of a controversial Perth housing scheme.
After a rollercoaster planning battle that has lasted more than 20 years, the Pilkington Trust has finally unveiled its proposal for the long-awaited Almond Valley project.
A masterplan for the sprawling 1,300-home estate, earmarked for land between Huntingtower and Ruthvenfield, was rejected three times by Perth and Kinross Council but was allowed after a successful appeal to the Scottish Government.
Planning chiefs have received comprehensive proposals for the first stage of the development, featuring 340 two, three and four-bedroom properties and three shops.
Sports pitches, leisure facilities and a changing pavilion are also earmarked for the 130-acre site, which is described in paperwork as the “heart” of the overall development.
A separate planning application has been submitted, covering the road through the site and a new community woodland.
The plans were submitted by a consortium made up of the Pilkington Trust and construction firm Stewart Milne.
Residents will now get the chance to comment on the plans before they are brought before councillors for a final decision.
Savills Planning Director Alastair Wood, speaking on behalf of the development team, said: “The consortium is intent on providing an attractive neighbourhood where people will choose to live and which takes account of the local landscape.”
He said: “There has been a real focus on open space and tree planting, with a significant net increase in the amount of trees in the form of a new community woodland, and additional planting spread throughout the development.
“A green swathe, which will act as a buffer between the housing and the river – with the creation of new foot and cycle paths – is integral to the site.”
Mr Wood added: “There has been continual engagement with the community council in order to deliver the best possible neighbourhood in Almond Valley. The community now has an opportunity to comment on the plans submitted.”
Of the 284 houses and 56 flats proposed, 85 are designed for affordable housing.
If approved, the new estate will be linked to Perth and the under-construction Bertha Park village via the £35 million A9/A85 link road which was officially opened in February.
Cautious welcome from locals
More than 80 people objected to the original Almond Valley masterplan.
They argued the proposal would ruin the character of the area, and create one massive city expansion rather than several smaller settlements.
However, the head of the watchdog group that had originally opposed the development gave the new plans a cautious welcome.
Kenny Simpson, chairman of the Methven and District Community Council, said: “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
“There’s lots of green space and a couple of football pitches, although they are on the land that floods.”
He said: “In theory, it looks okay. Unfortunately the park is across the river and there’s no bridge but that’s all they really could do with the land.
“We asked that the lade is also looked after and maintained, along with the plant life nearby.”
Mr Simpson said: “It’s a long term project that will take 10 to 15 years, and will only progress as people buy up the houses.
“We need to make sure there’s infrastructure to go with it, along with doctors, dentists and more services at Perth Royal Infirmary.”
Almond Valley’s chequered history has already involved a public inquiry, a Court of Session hearing and rejection by the council in 2004 and 2011.
The local authority removed the proposal from the local development plan in January 2012, only for the Scottish Government to rule that it should be incorporated into the adopted local plan in October 2013.
However, the scheme was rejected for a third time by the council in May 2016.
It was backed following an appeal in 2017.