A holiday park proposal near Culzean Castle that attracted objections from across the world has been given the go ahead by councillors.
More than 90 objectors from as far afield as the United States made known their views on the holiday home plan at Croy Beach.
The application looked set for refusal after planners indicated they were also opposed to the building of nine modular holiday lodges on ‘undeveloped’ farmland.
But councillors on South Ayrshire Council’s regulatory panel thought otherwise as they gave John Duncan, of Castlehill Farm, planning permission for his application last Thursday.
Mr Duncan told the panel that his family had owned the farm for a century, but indicated that it had become ‘financially unviable’, adding that he ‘hoped it would not be seen as an opportunistic application’.
He said: “I am old enough to remember when Croy beach was one of the most popular beaches in the country.
“The council themselves employed a gate person who charged half a crown for cars going onto the beach. There was one Sunday of the Glasgow Fair, when 1,800 cars were reported to have gone onto the beach. That is roughly two to three thousand people.
“Matters have obviously moved on and changed – there is now car park at either end. But those who use the car park are reluctant to walk very far from their cars.”
Planners had raised issues with use of land marked as ‘undeveloped’ and impacting on the visual landscape.
Mr Duncan argued that the beach was between five and seven metres below the fields and, therefore, out of sight.
He added that the Scottish Government had been calling on farmers to diversify in order to find new streams of income.
One objector, Anna Burns, appeared at the panel to make her case on behalf of her family. Ms Burns said her grandparents bought a cottage adjacent to the site 33 years ago and argued that the ‘special’ stretch of coastline would be affected by the development.
However, there was no objection from statutory consultees, with the National Trust and Culzean Estate seemingly content with the plan.
Independent councillor Alex Clark said that there were a number of other holiday facilities within the area.
Cllr Clark suggested that it was important to take into account ‘flexibility’ in the local development plan when it comes to rural areas in order to attract facilities and jobs .
Maybole councillor Brian Connolly backed up Mr Duncan’s description of the use of the beach.
“It used to be absolutely packed. Now it is a dog walker or nature walker’s beach.”
Cllr Connolly added that he did not consider it to be a ‘major development’ despite planners’ position .
Objections came from various locations, many referring to the proximity to Culzean Castle, even though no objections were forthcoming from the estate itself.
Robert Nargassans, from Massachusetts in the United States, commented: “My family and I visit this beautiful part of Scotland every year and bring some of the family school children to enjoy the historic history of Scottish Culzean Castle and its cultural assets.
“This dramatic historic setting must be protected from commercial enterprises that would have a negative impact on the landscape.”
Councillors voted in favour of granting the application by seven votes to one.
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