House near Blackness to be demolished following narrow council vote

25-11-2019. Picture Michael Gillen. BLACKNESS, 18 Mannerston Holdings, EH49 7ND.  GV of property which owners are being allowed to demolish to build two-storey home.
25-11-2019. Picture Michael Gillen. BLACKNESS, 18 Mannerston Holdings, EH49 7ND. GV of property which owners are being allowed to demolish to build two-storey home.

Councillors narrowly voted to allow a couple to demolish a 1930s-built house in a unique group of smallholdings and replace it with a large, modern home.

Members of the planning committee had visited the house at Mannerston Holdings – on the outskirts of Blackness – to see if the house would fit with the unique landscape. At a previous meeting, a retired architect and member of the community council, Merville Archibald, said the proposed two-storey house would be out of keeping.

25-11-2019. Picture Michael Gillen. BLACKNESS, 18 Mannerston Holdings, EH49 7ND.  GV of property which owners are being allowed to demolish to build two-storey home.

25-11-2019. Picture Michael Gillen. BLACKNESS, 18 Mannerston Holdings, EH49 7ND. GV of property which owners are being allowed to demolish to build two-storey home.

Speaking on behalf of the owners, Peter and Karen Mushet, agent Billy Smith had 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.

Falkirk Council’s planning officials argued that the house could be adapted although they agreed it would not be easy and insisted the scale of the new house meant it would not fit in well with the surrounding area.

Provost Billy Buchanan said: “This is a difficult one. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a matter of opinion and I don’t think it would be detrimental to the area.”

He was backed by Councillor David Grant, while Councillor Gary Bouse also found the decision difficult but on balance decided against it because there were other options for the owners and ways to adapt the existing house.

Councillor Joan Coombes said there were planning laws in place to give them guidance and “whatever our thoughts, we break our own laws at our peril”.

Her colleague Robert Bissett agreed, saying: “It would be a significant departure from policy.”

Councillors put it to the vote and the new house was narrowly granted planning permission.