Torphins couple fail in new house bid

A TORPHINS couple, who run a construction firm and farm in the area, have failed in their bid to build a new house for the family, on the farm from which they run their businesses.

They were advised by the local planning authority to come back with a "more robust" business plan and a new site for the proposed house.

Members of Aberdeenshire Council's Marr Area Committee, meeting at Alford, agreed with their planning service that building a new house at Mill of Pitmurchie farm was not essential for the efficient running of the two businesses.

Nicholas and Rona Edgar, Gallowcairn, Cairn Cottage, Craigmyle, had applied for full planning permission to build a house and change the designation of an area of land from agricultural to domestic use, at a site west of Mill of Pitmurchie steading.

A planning service report said that Mill of Pitmurchie is owned by the Edgar family and they had previously been given permission to establish a builders' yard and store there. The proposed new house would be for the applicants and their children to live in, as they do not consider that an existing house on the site is suitable for their needs. They currently live at Craigmyle, about three miles away. Mr Edgar is employed fulltime in the construction business and Mrs Edgar is the bookkeeper.

However, said the report, the family recently established a small farming business at Mill of Pitmurchie and they plan to expand the number of breeding cows and focus on the production of quality store cattle.

There were 17 letters of objection to the plans.

The planners' report, recommending refusal, said that it had not been satisfactorily demonstrated that a fulltime worker on-site was essential for the efficient operation of either business; there was other accommodation available, which could be extended or replaced; the proposed location of the new house was unsuitable; and the application failed to meet planning policy requirements, regarding design, siting and location.

The applicants' agent, Heather Smith (of Hesdesign, Alford) said that her clients were keen to build a house that "they can be proud of for years to come" but said also that they were willing to look at any other locations on the site on which to build it.

One of the objectors, Steve Thorn, who lives at Sundayswells, said that he considered that both the size and location of the proposed house was unacceptable.

Councillor Marcus Humphrey said that he also disliked the size of the house, which seemed over-large for a farming enterprise. And he said that he would also like to see a "more robust business plan." The plan submitted had done little to persuade him to back the application.

Councillor Karen Clark called for a decision to be deferred, to give the applicant time to submit new proposals, on a different area of land.

The Committee turned down the application but called on the applicants to produce a better business plan, plus new ideas for the location and access to the proposed house.