Fire-hit social club to be converted following appeal

Planners had rejected a bid to convert the club due to road safety concerns and the proposed loss of seven trees.

Fire-hit social club in East Renfrewshire to be converted following appeal LDRS

A fire-hit Barrhead social club can be turned into two takeaways, a shop and an office following a successful appeal.

East Renfrewshire planners had rejected a bid to convert the Columba Club, on Darnley Road, due to road safety concerns and the proposed loss of seven trees.

But the building’s owner Zubair Malik, of JM Real Estate Ltd, called for the council’s decision to be reviewed, and councillors have now granted planning permission.

The closed club was badly damaged by a wilful fire attack in February 2021.

Mr Malik will be required to submit a landscape plan, setting out which trees would be felled or retained, for approval before work can begin.

Plans show he intends to provide two hot food takeaways, a convenience store and a “professional services unit” on the site. There will be 25 car parking spaces.

The appeal claimed 48 car parking spaces “requested by the planning department are excessive based on the use of the units and the times of operations”.

It argued: “There are only seven trees being proposed to be felled in order to provide significantly improved visibility and safer access and exit from the site.”

More prominence is needed to “attract trade”, the appeal added.

The plan had been rejected as there were “public safety” concerns due to a lack of “sufficient parking provision” as well as “insufficient” visibility splays.

Officials also said the trees “make a significant positive contribution to the setting” and two new takeaways outwith the town centre would be “to the detriment of the vitality and viability of the nearby town”.

At an initial review meeting, consideration of the plan was continued so officials could draw up extra conditions to mitigate the suggested negative impacts if the decision was overturned.

A council report stated councillors believed original conditions “did not sufficiently address issues relating to road safety and the felling of trees”.

When the committee met again earlier this month, Cllr Paul Edlin and Cllr Chris Lunday voted in favour of approving the plan. Provost Mary Montague recorded her dissent “on the grounds of public safety”.

It was agreed that the owner will need to submit a plan showing “a visibility splay of 2.5 metres by 90 metres in both directions at the junction of the access to the site” to ensure public safety.

A landscape plan showing trees to be retained, felled, cut or planted will also be needed to “safeguard and enhance the character” of the area.

Cllr Lunday said if the applicant met the new conditions then he “would be minded to accept the application because I think that was a major concern”.

“If they were put in place, it would be up to the officers to determine whether the applicant’s plan to combat these issues would be acceptable in order for the plans to go forward.”

A council official added: “If the landscape plan is deemed unsatisfactory by the case officer, the applicant will not be able to put a spade in the ground.”

Three objections to the development were submitted by members of the public, raising concerns over road safety, the loss of trees, noise and the hours of operation.

The appeal stated the opening hours will vary, with the shop expected to operate from 8am until 10pm and the takeaways from 4pm to 11pm.

“The site was previously used as a social club so this should be a reduction in terms of disruptive noise pollution from parties late at night,” the applicant argued.

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