COUNCILLORS last week vented frustrations over planning decisions overturned by reporters appointed by the Scottish Government.

The September 8 sitting of Clackmannanshire Council's Planning Committee heard an update on two previously refused Allanwater Homes planning applications, which went to appeals.

A reporter appointed by the Scottish Government's Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DEPA) has issued a notice that they intend to grant planning permission in principle for a 53.7 hectare development to the west of Sauchie.

The meeting was also told that a reporter has given planning permission, with nine conditions, for a previously refused development of 91 houses at Alloa Park in the south of town.

The Sauchie development was originally refused for failing to mitigate impacts on the education estate, as reported ahead of the meeting, and the chamber was told that the reporter concluded that there was no requirement for affordable housing or secondary education provision.

During questions to officers, who have raised a number of questions themselves regarding the reporter's conclusions, Cllr Jane McTaggart was in disbelief over the affordable housing aspect, especially as the development is for a “minimum of 1,000 houses”.

She said: “I'm just concerned again about the affordable housing, I find it unbelievable that the reporter would suggest that there should be no affordable housing in this massive Sauchie west application.

READ MORE: Clacks Council officers question Sauchie housing appeal notice

“In my mind, it goes firmly against Scottish Government policy; I'm just dumbfounded that this has been totally disregarded.”

An officer confirmed they shared the same concerns.

Provost Donald Balsillie, who previously chaired the committee and is now a member, echoed Cllr McTaggart's comments regarding the Sauchie development.

He added: “I wonder whether we are underplaying the impact on our secondary school estate, I recall there was concern expressed by our council that the scale of the housing [means] we might have to alter our catchment areas.”

Cllr Martha Benny wondered if the council can appeal against the appeal and was told only a legal route would be available through the court of session and only on matters of procedure, not planning policy.

Cllr Benny added: “If not, what is really a point of having a committee that makes decisions and then this person [the reporter] comes along and says: 'No, you have to do it this way'.”

For the Sauchie application, the council is awaiting a response to questions raised while planning obligations are being drafted for a contribution toward primary school infrastructure and public art.

READ MORE: Allanwater housing deferral in Alloa is deferred

The second application, for Alloa Park, was originally refused over well-known flooding and drainage concerns.

Cllr Fiona Law questioned whether the reporter conducted a site visit, with officers confirming this was the case.

“Is that a dry visit, or a wet visit?” she went on to ask.

And added: “It would be good to know if it was a dry or wet visit because it definitely impacts on what they see when they come down to Alloa Park.”