Councillors hit dead end to address village eyesore

Clackmannanshire Council Planning Committee was given legal advice regarding the half-constructed, self-built property in Alloa.

Clackmannanshire Councillors hit dead end to address village eyesore iStock

A council planning committee has hit a dead end while trying to find a solution for a major village eyesore.

The committee previously asked for legal advice regarding the half-constructed, self-built property at 10 Gannel Hill View, Devon Village, in Clackmannanshire.

Village residents have previously pleaded for something to be done with the building job that has been unfinished on the plot for years.

Councillors had explored the option of using a compulsory purchase order to take over the property, but on Thursday the committee was told the option was likely a dead end.

In 2018, the Alloa Advertiser previously reported that the owner of 10 Gannel Hill View was given permission to house a caravan on the plot – on a temporary basis – to facilitate a “swift” building project.

However, the property has remained in a state of half-construction.

Local authorities have the power to issue compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for certain properties, but they must be approved by Scottish ministers before they can be enforced and there are strict guidelines in place.

Councils must be able to demonstrate a strong public interest associated with the CPO proposal and it can only be used as a last resort measure.

In order to move forward with a CPO, the council would also need to have firm plans and budget for the property in place.

“At this time the Council has no available budget for the completion of such a project,” a legal adviser told the committee on Thursday.

Additionally, the committee was told that one of the owners of the property has recently passed away, which further complicates matters.

“The estate of the late owner will take a number of months before it is finalised,” a report to committee said.

“As such it would not be appropriate nor would the owner have the ability to sell the property until the estate of the deceased has been discharged.

“It is unlikely that the council would be successful in obtaining the approval of the Scottish ministers to CPO the property.”

Councillors lamented the dead end and asked where they should go from here.

Legal advisers said the decision ultimately lay with elected council members, but in their opinion a CPO was simply not an option for now.

“If you make plans for something specific – like a care home perhaps or something with public interest – maybe you could revisit CPO as an option,” a legal adviser said.

Councillors ultimately acknowledged that must remain as it is currently.

“I think trying to pursue a CPO at this stage would probably be seen as inappropriate,” councillor Donald Balsillie (SNP for Clackmannanshire North) said.

“Especially because we don’t have a specific plan in place at the moment. More broadly, if we step back, I think there are many other properties in Clacks that I would prioritise for CPO over this one.”

Others agreed that at this stage, the council should step back from issuing a compulsory purchase order.

Councillor Jane McTaggart said: “I truly understand the neighbourhood’s frustration with the various issues of non-development.

“However, I think taking this CPO forward would almost be disrespectful. Right now this just has to lie as it is. Maybe we can come back at another point.”

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