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Kilmac owner in ‘conflict’ with his flood-fearing mum over 200-home Perth golf course proposal

Athole McDonald attended the flooding meeting at Craigie Church Hall. Image: Stephen Eighteen / DC Thomson.
Athole McDonald attended the flooding meeting at Craigie Church Hall. Image: Stephen Eighteen / DC Thomson.

The owner of Kilmac has admitted he is in ‘conflict’ with his mother over a proposed 200-home scheme on a Perth golf course.

The Courier reported last week that the 18-hole Craigie Hill Golf Club could be cut in half, with up to 200 homes built on the northern section.

The project is being led by the Tayside civil engineering firm, whose owner Athole McDonald is a former captain and member of the golf club.

The Perth man grew up in Queen Street, where his mother Babs still lives.

Two years ago she was forced to leave her home for seven months due to flooding from Craigie Burn.

And many others have also recounted similar tales of hardship from the incident, on August 12 2020, and the more recent flooding event of September 8 this year.

Their voices were heard in a meeting arranged by local MP Pete Wishart at Craigie Church Hall on Friday.

Left to right are Gavin Bissett (PKC Flood Risk Management Team), Pete Wishart MP, Gavin Steel (Scottish Water), Jim Fairlie MSP, Alistair Cargill (Sepa), Karin Bloodworth (Sepa) and Carol Raeburn (Scottish Flood Forum). Image: Steve MacDougall / DC Thomson

‘My mother is not happy’

Babs, 84, is one of many in the local area who believe that new housing developments are contributing to flooding in the Craigie area.

This includes Bellway’s ongoing Charlotte Gate housing development off Glasgow Road.

And she is unhappy that her son Athole is pushing for more homes at Craigie Hill.

Athole, 53, said: “She was flooded two years ago and was out of the house for seven months until we did the house up.

“We were lucky that because I own Kilmac I was able to call people in to get the water pumped out.

“I totally sympathise with people who can’t deal with it as we did.

“The perception from my mother, and others, is that the Bellway development at the top of Perth has contributed to the burn flooding.

“Kilmac is helping the golf club look at possibility of housing at the bottom half of the site.

“This is the very development that these people say would contribute to flooding.

“My mother is not happy so there is some internal conflict.”

The Charlotte Gate development. Image: Steve MacDougall / DC Thomson.

One month’s rainfall in two hours

The meeting heard from flooding specialists representing Scottish Water, Perth and Kinross Council, Sepa and the Scottish Flood Forum.

Mr Wishart was also joined by local MSP Jim Fairlie.

Craigie Burn has flooded five times in the past 41 years – in 1981, 1993, 2002, 2020 and 2022.

Alistair Cargill, senior flood risk specialist at Sepa, stated that a two-hour spell on September 8 saw 49.6mm of rainfall, just shy of the monthly average of 51.8mm.

This was considered an extremely rare event that the existing infrastructure was unable to cope with.

Around 40 properties experienced internal flooding, with others suffering impact to gardens and outbuildings.

The main areas hit were South Inch Place, Feus Road, Crieff Road, Fairfield Avenue, Cavendish Avenue, Gray Street and Cedar Drive.

Abernethy, Crieff, Forgandenny and Methven were also affected.

Around 70 people attended the flooding meeting at Craigie Church Hall.

‘I wouldn’t flood my mother’s house!’

Athole believes excessive rainfall is the cause of flooding – not new housing developments.

“I wouldn’t flood my mother’s house!” Athole said.

“But I appreciate the sentiment that my mother is adamant that was the reason there was flooding.

“But Sepa and the flood defence guys say that there has been a biblical event that has seen water fall that is three times the capacity of the burn .

“That is why it is flooding but the perception, certainly from my mother and other people, is that developers don’t care and they are just discharging into the burn.”

Flooding on Queen’s Avenue, Perth on September 8 2022. Image: Ted Eadie.

Bellway being there ‘means less flooding’

He points out that government legislation obliges developers to retain excess water and then return to a river at a controlled rate, once a flood peak has passed.

“In the case of the Bellway estate they’ve been asked to retain 200% of the capacity because it is on the flood plain,” Athole added.

“They’re actually exceeding the norm in the design.

“They are designed on the basis that they should retain 200% of the water fall.

“Ergo, the fact Bellway is there should mean there is less flooding, rather than more.”

Athole McDonald has defended the impact of new housing on flooding events. Image: DC Thomson.

‘High-level’ talks with landowners

There may be little that can be done about the weather, but Athole says he has found a different way to address flooding in the Craigie Hill proposal.

“As part of our development we have ransom strips so we are in discussions with seven or eight landowners around us,” he said.

“These landowners on the Dupplin and Moncrieffe estates are not averse to looking at water retention systems at the top of the burn.

“We are having very high level discussions with them.

“That’s what we’re needing. It’s not about dealing with a pipe or a culvert in the middle of Perth but something that holds massive amounts of water.”

Perth flood 2022 cleanup
Cleaning up after last month’s floods. Image: Steve MacDougall / DC Thomson.

Backlash could scupper development

No planning application for Craigie Hill has yet been submitted and Athole admits that he may be swayed by public opinion.

He added: “I will hopefully not lose friends but if the development is so contrary that it’s going to get such a backlash I won’t drive it forward.

“I live in Perth. This is my golf club and the Cherrybank Inn is my local.

“I’m not going to drive against sentiment. Why would I? I don’t need to.

“But the reality is that without the development Craigie Hill Golf Club will fail”.

Craigie Hill Golf Club plans. Image: Kilmac.

Sewage spewing ‘five times a year’

The meeting heard from residents affected by flooding in the Craigie area.

Janice Haig said she had so far spent £1,500 on defences to protect her Croft Park home after it was flooded in 2020.

A Low Road resident said he had endured two flooding episodes in three years. In 2020 he was forced out of his home for six months due to water penetration and insurance companies will now no longer cover his property, he added.

Another reported sewage spewing onto Cavendish Avenue five times a year.

Perth and Kinross Council assured locals that it is working on a Tay Local Flood Risk Management Plan that will report back by early 2023.

It will includes findings from the Craigie Burn flood study and Perth Surface Water Management Plan.

A new Facebook page, Flood Action Group Perth, has been launched for affected residents to come together and share stories and ideas about the issue.