PROPOSALS to build two houses at a former Hillfoots estate that was once used as a practice target by the military have been approved in principle, despite objections.

The brownfield land at the foot of the Ochils that was once home to 17th century Alva House will be allowed to be developed for two homes.

It comes after planning permission in principle was granted this month to applicants Dollar Restoration Ltd by Clackmannanshire Council's planning department.

No house designs have been submitted at this stage and anything to be built will have to be approved in the future.

Detailed planning permission has previously been granted in 2005 for the development of five self-catering holiday cottages at the site.

Council documents said works were carried out on site to commence the 2005 consent and it remains a live planning permission.

Proposals for two houses and office accommodation were then refused in 2008 as the site was not allocated for housing in the local plan, the lack of a need for a countryside location for the houses, the inappropriate scale and design of the houses and more.

A recent application in 2023 to remove conditions on the 2005 consent, restricting occupancy to tourism related visitors and restricting use of a building as a manager’s house was withdrawn.

However, permission for two houses has now been given in principle, with a range of conditions attached, as it “would bring this formerly developed brownfield site into use and would respect adjacent uses”.

The proposals attracted five objections with a range of issues raised.

Concerns were raised that the plans could set a precedent for further housing development in the countryside but it was noted that the site is brownfield land which has not significantly naturalised.

“Return to a natural state has not, and will not, happen without intervention”, planning papers added.

Objectors were also fearful that the developer cold submit further applications for additional houses, however, this has been addressed in a condition.

Another issue raised was that this would have a significant impact on the area but there are already houses existing in the area of the site, which previously contained a large country house many decades ago.

The planning department also said that there was no evidence to support a view that there would be a significant impact on the tourist and leisure value of the area, known as Woodland Park and featured on the VisitScotland website.

Once home to the Erskine family, Alva House dates back to 1636 although it is understood a tower house may have stood there in the 16th century.

It was eventually sold to the Johnstone family and was rebuilt as a mansion in 1789 and was further extended in 1820.

However, when the last Johnstones died in the 1920s, no new buyers could be found and the estate, located between Alva and Tillicoultry, quickly fell into decline.

It is understood the mansion was then requisitioned by the government, was used for target practice by artillery battalions and was demolished during the Second World War.

Little remains of the original mansion today, including some visible
parts of walls; in particular a section of dressed stone on the west side of the site, much of which is now bare rubble.