Concerns over suitability of Turfbeg site

a CONSULTATION exercise by Angus Council has revealed that many people are in favour of developing Westfield rather than Turfbeg.

As the local authority publish the consultation responses to the Angus Local Development Plan Main Issues Report many of the respondees state they would like to see new housing built at Westfield.

Last week it was announced that Guild Homes have plans to build up to 300 new homes on land at Turfbeg Farm.

Land at Turfbeg was earmarked for housing after a Government Reporter said it was a suitable area for development at the time of the Angus Local Plan Review.

Previously, land at Westfield had been regarded the favourite for housing growth for the town.

In his letter of representation John F. Graham, chartered architect, said: “The land to the north of Turfbeg should be relegated and Westfield promoted as the preferred option for development in the latter part of the plan period.

“Up to and including the 2006 public inquiry, the Council’s consistent view was that Westfield was the best location for Forfar’s long term expansion, a view largely based on the Angus Landscape Capacity Study 2003 and embodied in the Assessment of Possible Development Areas.

“Despite this overwhelming expert evidence to the Inquiry, the Reporter chose to disagree and concluded that Turfbeg was more appropriate for new housing and should be ‘safeguarded’.”

He continued: “There can be no doubt that development over the northern skyline could have a massive adverse visual impact.”

George Morrison, landowner on the west side of Forfar, raised a number of issues with the Turfbeg site. He states that a failure to retain land next to Forfar Academy could lead to a future restriction on sports development if too much green area is taken over by housing.

He also says that the site could lend itself well to an agri-park development, and as there are several agricultural businesses in the vicinity it would make sense to group them all together rather than create a second agri-park at another location.

He added: “Part of the safeguarded area does have a problem with standing water. Engineers will be able to mitigate this, but at some cost. Should housing development be encouraged on such a site?”

Mr Morrison continued to say that land further west of the safeguarded site has its own set of issues regarding development. He said that development would be seen from a large part of the A90 and be very difficult to screen. In addition to this he feels that any development of this area would just look like an “annex” to the town.

His other concerns included an impact on wildlife, impact of the weather from the south and the cost of fixing the standing water problem.

However, Mr Morrison also feels that the Westfield site would be better for development. He said: “Development here would be seen as a natural continuation of Forfar, a consolidation of the western boundary. The area lends itself to a long term planning allowing the ideas leading up to 2024 to be dovetailed into thoughts which may stretch well beyond this period.

“It would allow a range of different developments to be considered, housing, recreational etc. which would integrate and complement each other.”

Taylor Street residents have also registered their concerns over a development at Turfbeg Farm.

Grace Murray, resident of Taylor Street, said: “I’ve spoken to the residents of the 14 homes in Taylor Street that would be worst affected if housing were built in ‘our’ field, and they are unanimously alarmed and dismayed.

“Of these households, all but two are pensioners who dread the disruption to their peaceful lifestyle.”

Jean and Alex Smith, also residents of Taylor Street, raised a number of points in their letter of representation. However, they highlighted two main issues – that any new buildings should be bungalows, like all the existing properties north of Taylor Street. They also ask that any new traffic brought to the area by a new development would be separated by constructing alternative entry or exit routes.

They added: “As residents of Taylor Street enjoying uninterrupted views to the Angus glens, our preference would be that this site is not developed at all.”

The full list of consultation responses can be found online at http://www.angus.gov.uk/ldpmainissuesreport/Responses/default.html