Councillors to visit unique Blackness houses

Depute Provost Ann Ritchie backed the plans.
Depute Provost Ann Ritchie backed the plans.

Councillors will visit a unique group of houses built in the 1930s to agree whether or not one can be demolished to make way for a large, modern home.

One of the close neighbours of the house at Mannerston Holdings – a group of smallholdings on the outskirts of Blackness – came to Falkirk Council’s planning committee to argue that although the houses are all different, they are all similar in character and fit in well with the unique landscape.

A retired architect and member of the community council, Merville Archibald said the proposed two-storey house would be very much out of keeping.

In his view, it was entirely wrong to say that the old house it would replace was “substandard”, as Bo’ness councillors David Aitchison had argued in support of the application.

“Since they were built, they have all evolved and many have been extended but by relatively small amounts,” Mr Archibald said.

Depute Provost Ann Ritchie also addressed the meeting to support the proposed new house.

Speaking on behalf of the owners, Peter and Karen Mushet, agent Billy Smith claimed the 85-year-old house was substandard because it was not suitable for modern living and could not be redesigned. He said the proposed building had been designed to look like a modern farmhouse with a natural stone and slate finish and while the house was substantially larger because it was over two storeys the footprint was not too much bigger.

The owners are also seeking permission to change the use of the ground from agricultural to garden ground although they heard that as it hadn’t been used as a smallholding for ten years this was unlikely to be a problem.

Bo’ness councillor Lynn Munro was backed by her colleague David Grant and supported by other members who felt they should see the area to make a decision.