CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new ‘woodlands nursery’ in Mauchline have been given the green light by Scottish ministers.

Applicant Helix Homes appealed to the Scottish Government after East Ayrshire Council turned down the plans earlier this year.

And an independent reporter appointed by the government has now found in the developer’s favour.

Reporter Fortune Gumbo said planning permission for the project, in a woodland area north of the Loudoun Street car park, should be granted – but with 26 conditions attached.

Initial proposals were submitted at the end of 2022, with revised drawings coming to the council in February after the Ayrshire Roads Alliance raised concerns – with ARA later revising their view after changes were made to the plans.

Seventeen objections were lodged by members of the public – though the plans also attracted 26 expressions of support.

The objectors raised concerns around traffic levels and the impact of the development on neighbouring properties.

The application, lodged by Stairhill Architects on behalf of Helix Homes, was rejected by East Ayrshire’s planning committee on July 31 after a 5-4 vote against the proposals – with the vote going against the recommendation of council planners that the application should be approved.

Cumnock Chronicle: Access to the site would be via Nether WalkAccess to the site would be via Nether Walk (Image: Stairhill Architects/East Ayrshire Council)

In his report on the appeal, Mr Gumbo said: “I find that the creation of a nursery would be compatible and complementary to the residential use of the area. The provision of a nursery, close to a residential area where children are likely to live cannot, using whatever matrix, be considered to be incompatible with the surrounding residential use. In my opinion, it would be a complementary use.

“From the submissions from the residents, it appears that the incompatibility argument draws from the potential impact on residential amenity to the surrounding properties, especially those on Nether Walk.

“However, due to the heights of the boundary treatments (and the distance between the rear elevations of those dwellings and the property boundaries) at the rear of the Nether Walk dwellings, coupled with the provision of an exclusion zone around the nursery; the tree cover and the height and arrangements of buildings, I do not believe that the proposal would give rise to any unacceptable loss of privacy or overlooking into the existing dwellings.

“I acknowledge that the proposal is likely to give rise to some noise during the construction phase of the development. However, this would be temporary and can be managed through suitably worded conditions.

“The proposed development accords overall with the relevant provisions of the development plan and there are no material considerations which would still justify refusing planning permission.”