Councillors claimed their “hands were tied” after they approved plans by developers who knocked down without permission a building in a Kinross conservation area.
The developers of the Kirkland’s Garage site had a retrospective planning application approved by councillors on Tuesday following the unauthorised demolition of a manse at the site in June.
However councillors said they were “angry” with the way the situation had developed and called for local authorities to be given more power to fight unauthorised demolitions.
Planning and development committee convener Roz McCall said they had no alternative but to approve the plans, with the other option being a rubble-filled site, lying vacant, in Kinross.
The convener also complained the other avenue for councils was to pursue developers – in this case Kirkland’s Development Group – through the courts, often at expense to the public purse and resulting in nominal fines for the developers.
Ms McCall said: “I don’t like the way this process is.
“We have contractors all over Perth and Kinross who do everything by the book and we appreciate that.
“But then we have those who don’t and our hands, as a committee, are tied and it’s unacceptable to me.
“But as a council and as a committee we have to work with what we have. It’s a terrible situation.
“I’m angry about this situation, we shouldn’t be here – they (the developers) knew it was a conservation area.”
Councillors across the committee took the developers to task over their unauthorised bulldozing of the manse with many asking why they had not taken more care when demolishing other parts of the site.
Liberal Democrat councillor Willie Wilson said: “It is one of the most disgraceful moments of unauthorised demolitions in a conservation area I have heard in the last 40 years.”
Kinross-shire Independent councillor Michael Barnacle admonished the developers and asked if they had “regrets” as he highlighted the flawed system in dealing with retrospective applications.
He said: “There doesn’t seem to be any real deterrent.
“I’m concerned that there is no way that we can send a message that this is not what we want.”
The developers told the committee they had regrets over the way the building had been demolished but said the manse facade had become unsafe as they tried to remove parts of the roof.
Councillors questioned why more care had not been taken when the developers knew the manse facade was to be retained.
The retrospective planning permission to demolish the building and build two houses and four flats, along with re-building the facade of the manse, was approved by six votes to three.