Ardfern: divisions in paradise

Eilean Mor anchorage, MacCormaig Isles, Donald MacDonald Creative Commons

Ardfern village and the Craignish peninsula in mid Argyll in which it sits, is a  part of the world that has all of the elements of a rural idyll.

In the characteristic Argyll mode dictated by topography, Craignish is a world of its own. Access is slow, by a long single track road down the north shore of Loch Craignish, in spectacular landscape and with a potent coastal waterway bounded by exposed rock and looking to some of Argyll’s celebrated islands, accessed by tidal features that fuel the stories of sailors, like the Corryvreckan, the Dorus Mhor and the Grey Dogs.

This is sailing territory and it is an open secret that the well resourced Ardfern Yacht Centre hosts the only British royal yacht currently in service.

Houses old and new nest along the strung out lochside, punctuated by the generously proportioned and gloriously waterside located Craignish Village Hall, whose facilities and entertainments programme is a matter of open hearted envy. And artists abound.

Then there is the little village of Ardfern and the lovely Galley of Lorne Inn.

What does this place not have?

The answer, as in so much of Argyll, is affordable housing.

The majority of the incoming residents of this part of the world are the mature well heeled. Their fundraising acumen, with the dedication and commitment of the Village Hall Committee came together in the successful project that was the building of Craignish Village Hall.

This required the demolition of the previous hall, with the Hall Committee carrying on running events and activities there until the very last minute, to earn as much as possible  – about £80,000 – towards the new building.

Property prices in the Craignish peninsula, which includes Craobh Haven, almost opposite Ardfern on the north shore of the peninsula, are predictably high. Many of those who want and need to live there cannot ever hope to afford to do so – hence the need for affordable housing to provide for the young and to secure the elderly.

The first move to secure affordable housing

About 14 years ago, the Kirk Session of Craignish Parish Church made a suggestion to the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland.

The agricultural tenancy of The Glebe, the 14 acre field that had traditionally been used to contribute to the upkeep of the parish minister, had been given up. The General Trustees were thinking of putting the field on the market when the Kirk Session suggested that it might be kept in the tradition of service to the parish by having at least some of the land used to build some affordable homes.

The General Trustees supported the proposition. The Kirk Session went on to make contact first with a Scottish community housing charity, the Rural Housing Association, whose director, Derek Logie, became and remains helpful and supportive in the fulfillment of this project; and then with the Housing Association operating in the area and now known as Fyne Homes.

To develop Fyne Homes’ initial interest, the Kirk Session researched the scale of housing needs in Craignish. This led to Argyll and Bute Council realising that they needed to know a lot more about the housing situation in the area and commissioning consultants to carry out a housing needs survey for Craignish.

Both surveys showed a strong need for affordable rented housing in the community; and by the hitherto unconsidered young single people who had little hope of accessing suitable accommodation.

Ardfern was put on the list for Housing Association homes, in the hope that these might be built in 2008/09. But the former Lochgilphead High School site came up, whose purchase would enable Fyne Homes to build around 100 houses. The decision was foregone and Ardfern was dropped from the list with vague hopes of funding at a later stage.

An independent solution to the housing shortage

Very near Ardfern there proved to be, for a time, another – a hidden and secret – way of living.

Local landowner Colin Linday MacDougall permitted some people with an interest in alternative lifestyles to settle informally on his Lunga Estate, in a sort of hidden glen in the centre of the peninsula, between Ardfern and Craobh Haven on the north shoreline on Loch Melfort.

The residents of what became a collection of around 25 homes, wrapped external structures around the frames of static caravans, giving a thin legitimacy to their moveable status. They became quite a little community. They paid their council tax, which was accepted without anyone at the council realising where they actually lived. Many had real skills to make available to the wider peninsular community – they were electricians, plumbers, joiners, artists … active participants in local life.

Then, after many years and according to what sounds like local myth but is factually accurate, chance brought a senior member of staff from the council’s planning department to sail with a friend on Loch Melfort one Saturday.

As his eyes drifted over the landscape, they stopped at a single roof his expert knowledge could not quite account for. He made a mental note to check and that was end of the idyll. This later addition to the community we call ‘The Lunga Hutters’, was a little further up the hill than others – but not visible anywhere from the land. The longer view from the water turned out to be the Achilles heel.

Regardless of the fact that many of the residents of this inoffensive if informal community had been there beyond the statutory period within which they can legally be required to pull their homes down and regardless of the fact that they had for years been paying their council tax [which proved the duration of their residency], Argyll and Bute Council served most of them with enforcement orders.

This community – eccentric, individualist, affordable and invisible – nevertheless offended the suburban sensibility of the planners, who decided that the only way to clear the site was to use enforcement orders against them. There was  no interest whatsoever in even considering the issue of where those people would then live.

Several of them had no interest in traditional accommodation, much preferring the personality of the place they had created for themselves in tranquil natural surroundings. Some of these managed – eventually – to have the length of their residency accepted as qualifying them to remain where they were.

But for the others, their sudden and questionable dehoming brought the increased need for affordable housing in Craignish back into sharp relief.

In the picture again: The Glebe

With Fyne Homes engaged at the major Lochgilphead site, the recently formed Craignish Community Company, known as C3, suggested that they might help raise funds from the private sector to build the much-needed affordable housing. They and the General Trustees and agreed that C3 might research and prepare a proposal for The Glebe – on conditions stipulated by the General Trustees.

These were that none of the housing should either be offered on a shared equity basis or for outright sale.

These conditions were designed to ensure that the General Trustees did not make available land for housing at a discount price which could then be sold on the open market.

During the period that C3 worked, unsuccessfully, to produce a plan the General Trustees could accept, Fyne Homes came back into the picture with a new funding allocation.

This time there seemed no route to 100% funded housing but, by this stage, Argyll and  Bute Council had served their enforcement orders on the Lunga hutters and were then aware of their responsiblities in helping to create an answer to the housing shortage in the peninsula.

What emerged was a partnership between Fyne Homes, the General Trustees and Argyll and Bute Council, focused on creating 6 units of rented housing and 5 private house sites for eventual sale by the General Trustees.

In return, the General Trustees agreed to accept only £10,000 for the land required by Fyne Homes and also to pay all the planning development and application costs for the entire project.

Argyll and Bute Council had identified Ardfern as one of 26 ‘renaissance settlements’ – communities reckoned to have the capacity for sustainable regeneration. This classification made Ardfern eligible to apply for a special grant, funded from the second homes council tax levy to assist with solving housing problems.

Fyne Homes’ plan for the Glebe was accepted as one of three valid applications to this fund. Its available total was £750,000 – but the three applications came to £1,200,000.

To his credit, the Council’s Executive Director for Community Services, Cleland Sneddon, then recommended to elected members that the balance be found from reserves and that each of the three applications should be funded in full. This saw £320,000 allocated to Fyne Homes for the Glebe project.

This looked like success at last but, as is the way in these things, there were processes to be gone through, at the end of which – and without warning – the Community Council, of all bodies, has gone to extraordinary lengths to get the build relocated to another part of the village, described grandly as ‘more suitable for affordable housing’.

This has sunk a rift valley in the community, with demonstrably misleading claims of failure to inform submitted to the council by the Community Council, alongside all sorts of manoeuvres to block the housing at The Glebe.

Working up the proposal with community involvement

At the stage of the funding agreement to take The Glebe project forwards, a meeting of all interested parties was held in Council offices in Lochgilphead on or around 19th January 2012, chaired by Fergus Murray of the planning department.

Its purpose was to make the plan known and to explain the reasons behind the need to incorporate a mixture of private sites and social housing.

Present at this meeting were:

  • representatives of Fyne Homes with their advisors
  • the General Trustees with their planning consultant
  • Argyll and Bute Council roads and planning departments
  • the Minister and Kirk Session of Craignish Parish Church
  • a representative from Craignish Community Council
  • a representative of Craignish Community Company [C3].

The last two were invited to ensure that the community was kept informed.

In summer 2012, Fergus Murray attended a scheduled meeting of Craignish Community Council and repeated the details of what was proposed.

In November 2012, a meeting was held in the Glasgow offices of T C Young, Fyne Homes’ solicitors, at which final details of the plan were agreed. [Update 16th January: Mid Argyll Councillor, Dougie Philand and Highlands and Islands MSP, Mike Mackenzie were also present. Mr Philand had also supported the Lunga hutters in the matter of the enforcement prders.]

Because Craignish Community Council, which had been invited, was unable to send a representative, they were given a full briefing a few days later.

On 5th December 2012, at the Community Council meeting, the planning consultant and architect for the plan gave a presentation, confirming what had previously been communicated, with the addition of some slides showing basic house plans and views.

The planning application was duly lodged with Argyll and Bute Council.

The swerve

On 13th December, the Technical Services Director of Fyne Homes received a long letter from the Secretary of Craignish Community Council.

It is no impetuous document. Focused reading and some clues that escaped the filter reveal a carefully crafted communication designed to do three things:

  • present the appearance of a constructive attitude;
  • hijack the agenda – and the funding for The Glebe project, which the Community Council played no part in raising;
  • get the affordable housing moved to what some key movers clearly regard as a less offensive site.

This last is clearly the core objective.

The letter starts by setting out its stall, saying that the planning application is likely to meet objection from the Community Council, although it will be subject to a vote when it comes forward to it for formal consideration.

It attempts to establish a historically constructive stance in citing the Community Company, C3′s, involvement in the earlier plan for The Glebe – yet that involvement was targeted on limiting the plan and when their offer was accepted to  present a proposal themselves for the General Trustees of the Kirk, C3 had been unable to produce anything viable.

The letter talks of the General Trustees and the local Kirk Session having previously been opposed to any private housing on the Glebe and uses this to defend a declaration of the  ‘sense of local betrayal felt when the plans were revealed on Wednesday’.

The emphasis on  ‘revealed’ is ours and ‘Wednesday’ refers to the Community Council meeting – on 5th December where the planning consultant and the architect repeated to the audience the details of the proposal in which the Community Council had been kept fully informed since it became an achievable project at the start of 2012.

In the light of the serial inclusion of the Community Council and its representatives in the developing proposal – as detailed in the section above -  it is wholly disingenuous to talk of shock and a sense of betrayal, conjuring the picture of a being confronted by a rodent whipped from a hat.

This manoeuvre  – so good they try it twice , as the ads say – is repeated at the end of the letter: ‘It is a pity that you have progressed so far with the Glebe development without local consultation.’

The facts of inclusion, as outlined, speak for themselves – and of a very different picture.

The letter puts forward an attempt at a procedural obstruction in describing the proposal as ‘a departure from the Adopted Local Plan, the Community Council has recently completed the Craignish Community Plan, which has been adopted by Argyll and Bute Council as supplementary planning guidance’.

It admits that development at The Glebe is supported in this plan, ‘but only if it is for 100% affordable rented housing and public open space’.

It focuses on the Community Council’s opposition to what it describes as ‘the suburbanisation of the village’ and to ‘ribbon development’, giving the real game away in saying: ‘the current proposals for the Glebe would involve unimaginative housing [Ed: our emphasis], close to the road and loch edge, in a highly prominent situation, affecting the character of the village and loch side’; and in connection with this, talks of ‘changing the character of the Craignish Lagoon’.

This refers to the fact that when a boat comes into the long narrows between the islands and the mainland, south west of The Glebe, the proposed cluster of ‘unimaginative housing’ would be visible.

The hijack

At this point in the communication, the hijack ploy appears.

The Community Council, ‘With the prospect of a long and drawn out planning process’, suggests an alternative.

This is to move the housing planned for The Glebe to a piece of land at Soroba on the edge of the village centre.

The notion is designed to be attractive to the local landlord in enabling his development of the site, for which he has planning permission for 27 houses, 25% of which must be affordable. The letter admits that, while some infrastructural work has been done, the landlord is unable to progress his development because of ‘the cost burdens of provision of the low-cost element, combined with up-front infrastructure costs’.

This proposition has several attractions for the objectors. It would:

  • move the affordable housing out of refined sight – the communication says that this plan ‘would be unlikely to cause the issues associated with visual impacts or impact on the character of the village and its setting that are inevitable with the Glebe’;
  • do the landlord a favour in accelerating his private development to reality;
  • and  – grossly – do so by hijacking for his benefit the funding for The Glebe – which neither the Community Council nor the landlord have had any part in raising – to support the affordable housing quotient the landlord is unwilling or unable to finance at the Soroba site.

In this last respect the letter is explicit: ‘The Community Council, and I believe Fergus Murray of ABC, would be prepared to facilitate negotiations between Fyne Homes and Mr Lindsay-MacDougall, to come to agreement whereby the affordable element required on this HAL could be delivered by Fyne Homes.’ [Ed: our emphasis.]

The move to try to close an interventionist deal, ends the letter, with the proposal that this alternative be pursued alongside the plan lodged for planning consent. The long grass is propelled into the frame.

We understand that those who have worked for so long to create affordable housing in this area which is in serious need of it, have been told that there is no foreseeable prospect of the diversion of the funding package put in place for The Glebe to an alternative scheme.

But this is a community increasingly divided by the issue and divided with the economic power largely on one side – but not exclusively.

The nationally significant entrepreneur, Sir Tom Farmer, who has property on the peninsula, has, we understand, written to the council, in support of the project.

The cost of the Community Council’s plan to oppose the project

The Community Council’s decision to throw a counter proposal on the table at the eleventh hour, risks the loss of all the General Trustee’s investment, along with the £320,000 grant and can only be viewed as vexatious.

It is quite likely that the General Trustees, if the current application is refused, will walk away from any further efforts to provide affordable housing on the Glebe.

From the earliest stages of the project,  it has always been suggested that the provision of affordable housing on the Lower Glebe was only the first step in what could be longer term efforts to provide other community benefits on other parts of this land.

Where will this end?

The reality is that there is plenty of ‘unimaginative housing’, old and new, some of it expensive, on the peninsula already – as there is anywhere. The peninsula, in its long narrow shape with a hilly core, has bred what can only be described as progressive ‘ribbon development’ along the shoreline, albeit a ribbon of largely expensive elements.

Communities evolve over time, unless – unusually – they are planned formally from the outset. Any new structure of any kind is literally raw – until time, weather and planting embed it in its place. But the character and interest of any place is its variety.

The notion that the less well off  – which would apply also and relatively to the eventual purchasers of the modest 5 houses for sale alongside the 6 affordable rentals at The Glebe -  should be tucked away out of sight, their very existence socially masked or ghettoised, is offensive.

People have to live. Why should they not live in a pleasant place?

The tight niceties of the exclusive and the defensive have created the physical metaphor of ‘gated’ communities. Is Craignish destined for eventual gates slung across the entrance to the B8002 on the south of the peninsula to Ardfern and across the little road on the north side leading to Craobh Haven and the Lunga estate?

If Argyll and Bute Council is not firm and clear in its support for The Glebe plan – which has developed to this stage of application for planning consent – Ardfern will see no affordable housing for the foreseeable future.

Yet the one thing Argyll must do if it to have a hope of creating an economically sustainable future, is to increase the percentage of its younger and working age population – as a matter of urgency. Are they to be confined to hostel accommodation in a disused quarry somewhere?

 Note 1: The planning application for the Glebe has been validated with a reference number 12/02766/PP. The last date for comments to be lodged is 8th February 2013.

Note 2: The photograph at the top is of the Eilean Mor anchorage in the MacCormaig islands at the entrance to Loch Craignish. It is in Wikipedia, is reproduced here under the Creative Commons licence and was taken by ‘Donald MacDonald’. Since the MacCormaig’s were gifted to the SNP, we assume that the photograph was by the late SNP Councillor Donald MacDonald; that, as a keen sailor, the yacht at anchor was his; and that he will have had a special pride and pleasure in sailing in there.

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28 Responses to Ardfern: divisions in paradise

    • JR – It’s the first time I’ve heard about this controversy, but I think that the article is a careful attempt to provide a detailed description of the situation, and it’s bound to be criticised by one or both ‘sides’ for being partisan.
      I don’t envy the council planner’s task in reporting on this, and I wonder if part of the adverse reaction is due to what in the drawings and design statement does look rather banal? Not all the drawings listed in the planning application are available to view on the planning website – notably the site elevation, to show the overall picture of how the houses will sit in the shorescape.
      However, the individual house designs aren’t that inspiring (even allowing for the need for low cost), and the design statement specifying white walls, white eaves, white gables and white window frames is even less so, as ‘playing safe’ is one thing but utter banality in the detail is something else, and surely Ardfern – anywhere – deserves better than that?

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  1. Clearly this article has escaped the Editor’s pen. Further more the picture features an island south of Loch Sween – miles from Ardfern village or the Craignish peninsula – what’s the connection. Please can we have a precis?

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  2. It is a bit ‘war and peace’, but it has all the usual accoutrements of a thriller; skulduggery, backstabbing, hidden motives and a cliffhanger at the end. What more could you want? Given it’s only a community council that’s objecting, there’s no reason for ABC to refuse permission; the reasons offered aren’t very compelling and the financial plight of a private developer elicits exactly no sympathy from me at all.

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  3. you missed a bit on the end …….’disused quarry on Easdale’ but then you would probably object to that and start slating the neighbours. Karma thankfully has no deadline.

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  4. Ultimately, the planning application will be judged on the applications merits and how it fits with overall planning laws, guidelines and local plans etc.

    If the Community Council have valid planning reasons against this, then they will be taken into consideration, and rightly so. However if the objections are not valid planning objections i.e ‘We don’t like it, we think there is a better idea’ i.e objections on the commercial aspects, then they will likely be ignored, as they are irrelevant to the decision making process.

    How any party has acquired or is going to spend their money is nothing at all to do with the application. Whether a landlord has spare land is almost irrelevant too, especially if it’s the same type of land as the proposal is.

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  5. Wikipedia and Google Earth both have the MacCormaig islands off the mouth of Loch Sween. Google Earth measures the distance (as the crow flies) as approx 24 km to the mouth of Loch Craignish.

    Never argue with a nautical man with local knowledge

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  6. The sad aspect of all of this discussion is that it cannot be guaranteed that any new low cost houses will be allocated to local residents. The only way to ensure this is through joint ownership schemes or self build.

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  7. From a local resident’s point of view, with no axe to gring, I am curious as to why the Kirk pulled the original plan to build with C3 – it appeared to be progressing OK. Now, locals are being asked by the Kirk to contribute to rebuilding the church building and yet they’re planning to make money selling plots for yet more holiday/second homes – there’s far fewer ‘affordable’ homes than the initial plan.
    The article above does seem to be written with an agenda, and I would question the presentation.

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  8. The Pensulia is fortunate indeed to have Laird Colin Linsday Mac Dougall in residence, Argyll and Bute Council owe him a debt of gratitude for the work he done with his affordable homes of sorts, nestled in the landscape of Lunga,what foreward thinking with “The Hutters” what a remarkable man, a local Landlord , a business man a Scotsman, he has already done what the Council have failed to do. Gavin

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    • Forgive my ignorance but are the “Hutters” actually local people whose housing needs weren’t being addressed by the local council or latterly housing association or did they arrive from elsewhere to take advantage of the laird’s tolerance & liberal interpretation of the planning laws that are deemed to apply to everybody else? Well, most of us anyway.

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  9. You would think that when an obvious error (re MacCormaig Isles) is pointed out, newsroom would correct the article.

    Or not, if they write such long articles, they must be busy.

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  10. Why make such a fuss about the photo? – it may not be of Ardfern, or even in the immediate Craignish area, but it’s not that far away and certainly typical of the local environment.

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  11. Yes, its typical of the area but the article says

    Note 2: The photograph at the top is of the Eilean Mor anchorage in the MacCormaig islands at the entrance to Loch Craignish. It is in Wikipedia, is reproduced here under the Creative Commons licence and was taken by ‘Donald MacDonald’. Since the MacCormaig’s were gifted to the SNP, we assume that the photograph was by the late SNP Councillor Donald MacDonald; that, as a keen sailor, the yacht at anchor was his; and that he will have had a special pride and pleasure in sailing in there.

    So its a misstatement of fact which could be corrected if newsroom got off their keisters.

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  12. I am afraid that more than just the location of Eilean Mor is wrong. The boat in the picture is owned by a quite different Donald MacDonald who, I can assure readers, is neither ‘late’ nor a member of the SNP.

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    • Aye, and the Owning Trust of Eilean Mor want a landing fee for the use of their jetty. A strange place, with its wee bit museum.

      So, still no precis of this article then?

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  13. It’s amazing how the main thrust of an article can be ignored and hijacked by irrelevant side issues – a pretty picture of a boat!

    A few years ago Ardfern was famous throughout the UK and beyond as being a hippy happy Mecca where the taking of illegal substances could be enjoyed without too much hassle from the authorities. (There were a few insignificant prosecutions to keep the locals happy) Partakers of these substances arrived from all over and found a haven where they could erect a hut or place an old caravan outwith the view of planners, though surely the landowner was well aware of them. The huts of the ‘Hutters’ were mostly tumbledown shanty buildings or old caravans often surrounded by old broken down cars, vans, busses and scrap metal and wood. Because they were purposely secreted the authorities could’nt see them but why they didn’t question where the council tax was coming from raises another issue. If they paid council tax were they entitled to vote?

    What appears to be the case now is that these residents coming from all over, are now quite legally entitled to be housed, and from the article it would appear to be that they have priority over the sons and daughters of long term residents some of whom have worked in the area for generations. If the council removes their huts they are homeless and then it becomes the responsibnility of the council to house them. That gives them priority especially if they have children.

    This tends to suggest that any person living in any part of the country and beyond can erect a secret hut, live in it undetected for ten years and then be given a cooncil hoose? Great! This will certainly bring new incomers to the Highlands and Islands when squatters and drop outs from London, Birmingham, Warsaw and Bucharest etc know about it. Surely local houses should be built primarily for the benefit of local people and their children.

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    • That sounds very much like the anti-immigrant rants which we hear from the more rabid side of the Tory party, albeit on a local scale. Surely we should be encouraging more people to come and live in Argyll. Would Craignish school still be open if these “immigrants” had not moved to the area or would it have been closed due to lack of pupils?
      How long does it take to be a local?

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  14. A little accuracy wouldn’t go amiss.
    The following is the wording of a petition signed by 110 residents in August 2008 (43.5% of the voting age within the community). This was in response to moves to have this PDA removed from the Local Plan
    • We, the undersigned, being residents of Craignish, support this attempt to have the area of glebe land known as PDA 12/80, reinstated to the Local Plan.
    • There is an urgent need to find a viable solution to the housing crisis in Craignish, which has been compounded by the situation at Lunga, where many residents are subject to enforcement orders. The glebe land was identified by Argyll & Bute Council in the Draft Local Plan as suitable for affordable housing, and if developed, it would contribute to the solution of this desperate situation.
    • The reinstatement of this PDA would allow a continued focus for the provision of community housing
    It was sent to Argyll & Bute Council with a letter which included the following paragraph…
    “With PDA 12/80 in place, the community can continue with its efforts to try to find a solution to the problem of its own housing needs. I make this point to stress that the people who need to be housed already live here, and use the roads, school, and much of the existing infrastructure”.
    As a result of this petition the PDA was reinstated to the Local Plan.
    The reason why there is a debate within the community now is a) because the entire area of land was zoned for affordable housing (not split use as currently proposed), and b) because the community clearly wanted it to be developed for the use of people who already live in Craignish.
    Tom McCardel

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    • Well done for bringing a bit of sense to the debate Tom I have a feeling that at the time that the petition was raised there was still the option of developing the upper Glebe.
      I think its also to do with the fact that there has been a very long standing wish in the community that the shores of the lagoon should not be developed .This goes way back to the very first attempt to develop by CLM .If you remember when CBC was first set up this was always a given . It was one of the very strongest messages that came out of the consultation for the Community Plan . I don’t think you will find a single person in Craignish who would not agree that affordable /protected housing is required .But we must try and achieve this in a sensitive, imaginative and balanced way that does not spoil this wonderful and essential part of Ardfern. The lagoon is one of the things that makes this place special. It is full of wildlife ( wildfowl of all kinds, otters , seals etc)and walking along its banks is a special experience which possibly most of us now take for granted . Building houses on the lower Glebe of any kind will no doubt spoil this to a degree.This letter insinuates that there is a wish from the local NIMBYS and white settlers that low cost housing does not deserve such a wonderful location.This is so wrong . There is a perfectly good , in fact possibly better, location ready and waiting to be used.The upper Soroba location has great views from a high position and will get more of the winter sun .I would love to be up there ! Please lets have a sensible debate about this and please no more politically motivated letter that point fingers and make false accusations.

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  15. I can confirm that the photographer is indeed alive and well. Newsroom’s guess concerning the late Cllr MacDonald is understandable, but incorrect. I can also confirm that the photographer is actually a long standing but inactive member of the Labour Party, although he claims that quite a few of his friends are members or supporters of the SNP. “Doesn’t make them bad people”, he says.

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  16. from the BBC Domesday Project about Ardfern (1986)

    “There are 37 houses in the defined
    map area of the village (13 of trad-
    itional style using local stone & 24
    of more modern construction). 8 were
    Council built (some now privately own-

    so the 8 Council Houses, which were presumably “affordable”, have since been subsumed into “unaffordable”.

    This may happen again?

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  17. ha ha the white settlers are getting restless again! local affordable housing is an absasalute must for these small villages.BUT!!! priority should be given to the LOCAL folk that have been raised in this area and totally outpriced by the incomers. as for the non local hutters maybe they should go back to whatever chemical smoke induced hut they crawled out from before arriving in this area. p.s. i cant help wondering if the person writing the community council letter could be the land owner looking for the housing permission?

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  18. How sad. Ardfern – a unique environment, a unique community divided by 14 acres of land. There is a huge amount of information both historical and present. There is bias and opinion expressed by the divide over a piece of ‘Church’ land. It saddens me further that if the Glebe development is approved the village Church will receive no financial benefit; rather the money going into the CofS coffers to be distributed elsewhere.
    There is a need for low cost housing on the peninsula. It would also appear that there are serviced sites available on the Soroba Road where there is already an infrastructure in terms of access, sewerage, electricity and communications. Planning has already ruled against ribbon development along the Loch side.
    Leaving aside all the different factions within the community is it too simplistic to suggest that the Glebe should be left as a piece of heaven on earth whilst the other sites are developed as purely low cost housing?

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  19. The problem is of building more on the shore road, and next to two of the very few historic buildings in the village, the kirk and the manse. This is a very visible site and it also happens that the planned buildings are ugly which makes bad matters worse. There is already too much traffic on this road. The implication that they would be ghettoised by being built up the Soroba road is absurd. There are already a number of houses up that road of various sizes.

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  20. Why are people so negative about the ‘Hutters’? They didn’t live in their dwellings for ten years and then apply for council houses. Some of them had lived in Ardfern for 30+ years, PAID COUNCIL TAX, and had no designs on council houses, but the council decided to evict them, at which point, they would no doubt be scrambling round for council houses because they couldn’t afford house prices and had lived in the area for years, had children at the local school, had established a self-employed business, etc.
    PS I’ve no stake in this debate as far as Ardfern is concerned – I live in another part of A&B with little or no private rental properties, or council houses, and quite a few weekender homes – it’s no fun if you’re not well-off.

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