Battle looms over houses for heroes plan

Now the matter is set for a showdown meeting next month where councillors on the planning committee will have the final say.

The idea to build two homes at Bloomhill, near the village, came about after landowners The Chrystal Trust decided to put a vacant field to better use by building homes for veterans.

The land was once the estate of Lt George Chrystal, who perished along with scores of fellow officers and men of the 1/9th Battalion Argyll Sutherland Highlanders which was all but wiped out in the 2nd Battle of Ypres in May 1915.

Colin Donald, spokesman for the Chrystal Trust said that turning the land into homes for veterans would be a fitting way to honour his forbear’s memory.

He said: “Houses for Heroes Scotland and the Chrystal Trust have spoken to literally hundreds of people in all parts of Cardross, have been hugely encouraged by the widespread support for the plan.

“The support we have received from local residents and businesses along with national bodies, has been overwhelming. We would respectfully suggest that on this issue Cardross Community Council’s view is evidently not that of the village as a whole.

“As the charity’s waiting list shows us, there is an urgent and current requirement to house these disabled veterans’ families, and this plan is a response to that need.

Peter Minshall, chief executive of Houses for Heroes Scotland added: “We have 100 years of experience of building disabled accommodation all over Scotland. For us, Bloomhill is a textbook site for integrating disabled veterans within a village community.

“The Chrystal Trust has the land and we have funds specifically donated for this site. Using local tradesmen, we want to make this semi-detached cottage a showcase of well-integrated design and planning.

“It is up to us, with planning law and environmental policy on our side, to convince councillors to do the right thing and by everyone working together create a flagship example of meaningful support for the Armed Forces Community Covenant making Bloomhill something about which all involved can be proud.”

Councillor Maurice Corry, Armed Forces Champion for Argyll Bute Council, is one of those backing the proposal.

He said: “It is very important that the Council is seen to support the establishment of veterans’ houses in this area. We have a special need for disabled housing in Cardross, and Bloomhill is the ideal site.”

Othsrs giving it their backing include the Argyll Museum at Stirling Castle, Lt Gen Sir John MacMillan, General Mike Riddell-Webster, Trevor Royle, regimental historian and Trinity College Oxford, where George Chrystal’s wartime letters are kept.

A meeting to decide the proposal’s fate will be held on March 22.

A spokesman for Argyll and Bute council said: ‘”The application has been recommended for refusal because it is contrary to the Argyll and Bute’s Scottish Government approved local development plan as it proposes a development within a green belt area, where there is a presumption against housing.

“Encouragement is only given to green belt development in very limited and specific categories, such as buildings for agriculture and forestry or the provision of outdoor sports facilities.

‘’This particular development is also considered unjustified and inappropriate because it will be visually intrusive and result in urban sprawl, undermining the setting of Cardross Old Parish Church and Churchyard which are, respectively, a listed building and a scheduled monument, as well as having a detrimental impact on the conservation area.”

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