Scotland and Rangers legend Ally McCoist is currently feeling the wrath of Renfrewshire Council and the local population as plans to build his dream property are contested. McCoist and neighbour Jeffrey East teamed up to acquire a derelict building next to their own homes to stop developers getting involved. It is estimated that the 113-year-old Bridge of Weir property would take in excess of £2 million to repair after years of neglect, unoccupancy, vandalism and even fire. It is also believe that the property suffers from both wet and dry rot which can be extremely expensive to fix.
Both Ally McCoist and his neighbour Mr East submitted plans to the local council for the building of two properties. The idea was that each party would move into their new mansion and sell their existing properties which are literally just a few yards away. The new mansions would overlook the local golf course and make use of an area which has literally become an eyesore.
Plans submitted to the council seemingly attracted nine letters of objection with even Historic Scotland becoming involved. While Historic Scotland has since withdrawn their objection, due to the viability of repairing the building, it seems the council is now having second thoughts. Initially council officials waved through the application for the existing building to be demolished and two mansions built in its place. However, a board meeting last Tuesday saw a change of heart and councillors now want to visit the site in person before making a decision.
While nobody would contest the need to appreciate and protect listed buildings, there is also a need to be sensible with regards to the cost. The 113 year building in question would cost in excess of £2 million to repair, something the council could never justify, and is now considered to be a safety hazard. There is nothing wrong in questioning changes to listed buildings and their use but unless protesters are willing to come up with the money to repair the property, where is the sense in letting it rot?
Even though the local council is now reconsidering its position, even ardent critics accept that both Ally McCoist and Mr East have considered all options for the derelict property. They acquired the property knowing full well it was a listed building but in its current form it is simply unviable to repair. The building of new homes on the existing site, which would be shielded from the road by an array of trees, would not upset the current look and feel of the area. So, will local council officials eventually see sense and wave through the application or will there be yet more red tape?
It is the role of the local council and planning officials to consider whether the repair of a listed building is both viable and a sensible use of taxpayer funds. The fact that the property in question has become something of a safety hazard appears to have been ignored by many people. Surely the building of two new properties on the existing site would enhance the area and also create new employment opportunities?
With our sensible hat on it should be safe to assume the applications will be wave through in the end but this is politics and nothing is ever straightforward.