January 2022

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Causewayhead Community Council Minutes of the meeting held on Monday, 10 January, 2022

 

 

Present:


 

Val Sinclair, Chair

Joyce Carberry, Member Darren Draper, Member Bill McLellan, Member Fiona Macleod, Vice-Chair Paul Mcdonald, Secretary

Duncan McDougall, Co-opted Member

 

In attendance:

Thelma Barron (Resident and Minutes Secretary); Councillor Susan McGill, Ward 4, Stirling North; Two local residents.

 

Apologies:


 

Sonja Cameron, Treasurer; PC Greig Lowery, PC Stuart Gray, Community Police Officers; Councillor Jim Thomson; Sue Whyte, Associate Member.

 

1. Welcome

The Chair welcomed all attendees to the meeting, and introduced Duncan McDougall, Co-opted Member, who represents both Bridge of Allan and Causewayhead Community Councils in matters relating to the proposed Airthrey Kerse development, and was attending in order to provide an overview of the current position.

2. Airthrey Kerse Development: Overview

Duncan McDougall presented an oral report on progress to date in the work of the Reporter to gather new evidence, in regard to Graham’s Dairies proposals for a housing development on Airthrey Kerse. In a detailed exposition, Mr McDougall highlighted the following points:

2.1 Proposals for a housing development on Airthrey Kerse had first come forward in 2014. Now, eight years later, and following two appeals to the Court of Session by the Grahams, the third Reporter in the case was in the late stages of gathering new evidence, with a view to reaching an informed decision later this year. Mr McDougall commented on the Reporter’s meticulous attention to detail, and expressed the hope that a decision might be forthcoming around Easter.

Drainage Plans

2.2 Drainage from the site had been a key issue from the outset. When proposals first came forward, ECUS, Graham’s drainage consultants had set out various plans, for drainage, which were seen to be unrealistic, involving water running against the gradient. Successive plans were perceived to be equally flawed; in total, eight separate drainage proposals were rejected. The final plan proposed laying a pipe under the railway crossing to the river, at such a low gradient as to have almost no run in it: the proposed run had a gradient of 1:1000, compared with the norm

 

of 1:180. Finally, Network Rail required that any pipe would need to be installed by them and at a specified depth below the rail bed, which would have made it impossible to achieve even the 1:1000 gradient. Clearly, under this plan, there could be no expectation that water would be drained effectively from the site. In preparation for the construction of the new level crossing, Network Rail had drilled boreholes at that end of Airthrey Kerse and had hit water at one metre.

2.3 The water table in this area is very high, and drill reports show, water or ‘blue clay’ (waterlogged clay and silt) generally lies one metre below the surface; in some areas the water level is only 80cm below the surface. Any test bores conducted on behalf of the Grahams had not been submitted in evidence. The site is almost level and to provide the required drainage flow from the houses, the land would need to be raised on the building sites. The sites would be raised by scraping a half metre off the rest of the site, including the proposed loch, which would throw out all previous levels and proposed drains, and would leave the water table in some areas 30cm below ground level.

2.4 It appeared that the drainage consultants had not consulted Scottish Water about drainage rates into Causewayhead Burn and the drainage system, which averaged 257 litres per second. To date, there had still been no consultation with Scottish Water about the discharge of water from the site. Normally, it was understood, housing developers work in conjunction with Scottish Water, taking cognizance of Scottish Water’s strict criteria on drainage.

SEPA

2.5 In light of the multiplicity of plans coming forward, SEPA had withdrawn their original objection, but reserved the right to object to future proposals. However, on Christmas Eve 2020, SEPA fell victim to a sophisticated hacking attack, when the majority of the organisation’s data was encrypted, stolen or deleted overnight. While SEPA was continuing to deliver key services, such as flood warnings, more than 12 months on, they were still rebuilding their digital infrastructure. SEPA had, however, responded to the DPEA’s request for comment, in June 2021, in which they held to the original line, that they will answer any problems at the time of a detailed planning application. They highlighted problems with the site, but said that solutions are possible.

SEPA Climate Projections

2.6 SEPA last produced a climate projection in 2019, providing guidance on flood risk assessment in land use planning. In relation to the Forth river basin region, it was predicted that by 2100, the sea level would rise 0.86m, an average of 1.5cm per year. By the end of the century, rainfall was projected to increase by 25%, and the average level of the River Forth was projected to rise by 25%, with peak river flow rising by 40%. None of the proposed drainage plans for Airthrey Park took cognizance of the climate change projections for the area, and the steadily increasing impact that this would have on Airthrey Kerse and the wider area.

Transport and infrastructure

2.7 In November, the Grahams submitted documents to the Reporter on flood risk and transport. These documents had only been circulated for comment in early January; Mr McDougall would be responding on behalf of the Community Council, and issuing a copy of his submission to the Chair. Whilst noting the positive

 

development of the new level crossing at Cornton, the Grahams’ document failed to address the resulting 10% increase in traffic along Airthrey Road and down Causewayhead Road. Much emphasis was placed on the Kildean Bypass, first proposed in 2008, to run from Kildean to Stirling University. But Stirling Council had reviewed plans in 2013, casting doubt on the future of the link road and bridge over the River Forth. In the current climate, it seemed unlikely Stirling Council would be able to fund this very expensive project. Moreover, there would be drainage issues on the green belt land across which the road would run, and, it was suggested, the design of a bridge over the Forth at Cornton would be very challenging. More generally, the point has frequently been made over the years that the local infrastructure (roads, doctors, etc) is wholly inadequate to support the 600 houses proposed.

Marketability and land value

2.8 The appellants were now seeking ‘planning permission in principle’, without recourse to the drainage figures. Members noted that the grant of planning permission in principle can add £3 – 4K per acre to the value of land. However, Community Council members queried whether a bank or lender would be willing to lend money for a house that seemed unlikely to last the term of a normal mortgage.

Stirling Council land supply

2.9 Virtual meetings had taken place in the past week on the issue of Stirling Council land supply. The basis for the Grahams’ current appeal was that they contested Stirling Council figures for housing supply contained in their strategic plan. Stirling Council had agreed to provide 8,500 houses by 2030, which they claimed exceeded their Government target. As this was a specialist topic, it was agreed that Community Councils would not take part. Whilst it seems there is no set way of calculating land supply, Mr McDougall reported that Stirling Council and Grahams had not arrived at an agreed method for the calculation of housing land supply.

Airthrey Park land – viability for building

2.10 It appeared that Airthrey Kerse was like an enclosed vessel: not only did the land seem wholly unsuitable for building on, but nor could it be effectively drained. It was suggested that to build anything on Airthrey Kerse would require such massive underbuild as to render any building project commercially unviable. It was emphasized, that after nine separate drainage proposals, the Grahams had still not obtained planning permission.

2.11 It was further noted that we in Causewayhead are located at one end of the Dollar aquafer, a geological feature which runs along the bottom of the Ochil Hills, carrying billions of litres of water between Stirling and Dollar. To breach the cap on this would cause huge issues for the Ochils.

2.12 The forthcoming meeting between Grahams and Stirling Council would be livestreamed, and a recorded version could be viewed on U-tube, via a link from Stirling Council web-site. A meeting between Stirling Council and the Developers would take place in February/ March in which Mr McDougall expected to participate.

 

Discussion points

2.13 In discussion, members felt strongly that Airthrey Kerse had long been designated as Green Belt and should remain so, but the recent granting of planning permission in principle to developers for a scheme led by Judy Murray to build luxury homes, a tennis and golf centre and a Sir Andy Murray museum, on the Park of Keir, demonstrated that designation as Green Belt was not necessarily an impediment to building.

2.14 The view was expressed that there should be a limit on the number of times an applicant for planning permission can appeal, not least in view of the inordinate cost to the taxpayer of multiple appeals. It was noted that were the Grahams to lose the current appeal, they would be free to resubmit their planning application in a year.

2.15 Community Council members drew comparison with the drainage issues now emerging on the Wallace Gardens development, and where the builders had not secured sign off of the drainage arrangements by Scottish Water.

3. Adoption of Minutes of Previous Meeting

3.1 The Unconfirmed Minutes of the meeting held on 4 November, 2021 were approved, having been proposed for adoption by Fiona Macleod, seconded by Joyce Carberry.

3.2 Matters Arising

Issue of speeding on Alloa Road (M2.2.1 refers)

3.2.1 Following the reduction of the speed limit to 20mph, there was nothing further to report at this time.

Sustrans: Walk Cycle Live, Stirling (M2.2.2 refers)

3.2.2 The Chair would be attending a meeting of the WCLS Uni Route Steering Group on 25th January 2022.

Replacement of play equipment, Easter Cornton Road Park (M2.2.3 refers)

3.2.3 The new play equipment had been fitted but work was not yet complete, so the equipment was not yet ready for use.

Exclusion of Wallace Gardens from CityFibre Rollout (M2.2.4 refers)

3.2.4 While responses from Scottish Water and Stuart Milne were awaited, the flooding issue was ongoing, and until the drainage problem was resolved, CityFibre could not instal fast fibre cable.

Lack of bins in Wallace Gardens development and dog waste (M2.2.5 refers)

3.2.5 Further to what had been noted previously, it was reported that there was a particular issue between Lothian Crescent and Meiklejohn Street. It was understood that Councillor Thomson had undertaken a walkabout in the area to determine where extra bins might be located, and was taking matters forward.

 

3.2.6 Councillors Gibson and Thomson had each received emails with a complaint about dog fouling in Easter Cornton Road and Dumyat Road. The Enforcement Team had gone out and had engaged with 15 individuals, identified dog fouling and sprayed the areas concerned. The Chair undertook to e-mail Councillor Thomson regarding progress on the supply of bins. [Action: Chair]

 

Sustrans – public seating in Easter Cornton Road (M5.6 refers)

3.2.7 A steel bench would be provided, to be positioned at the top end of Easter Cornton Road.

Speeding on Easter Cornton Road (M6.6 refers)

3.2.8 Since work had been carried out on Easter Cornton Road to refresh white lines, and instal repeater signs and 20mph roundels, some residents at the top of Easter Cornton Road had been liaising with Councillor Thomson about speeding and the vibration from the speed restricting platforms. Councillor Thomson planned to issue a letter to all residents of Easter Cornton Road, inviting feedback on any further measures that may be required on Easter Cornton Road.

4. Police Report

 

4.1 The Chair noted that it was difficult for the Community Police Officers to devote the time required to attend Community Council meetings, but reminded Community Councillors that we could readily be in touch with them by e-mail, if any issues arose.

4.2 The Police Report covered crime reports from 5 November, 2021 to 9 January 2022. The 4 detected cases comprised driving offences, possession of drugs, assault and threatening behaviour. The 5 undetected cases over the period comprised 2 cases of fraud and 1 of attempted fraud, and two cases of shoplifting.

4.3 Over the time period concerned, there were 89 calls to police for the Causewayhead area.

4.4 The Chair had been contacted by the Police Community Support Division with regard to proposed changes to the format and structure of police reports. A police officer planned to come and address the next meeting.

5. Treasurer’s Report

On behalf of the Treasurer, the Chair provided an oral report.

5.1 Council members noted that the current balance stood at £7,581.

6. Chair’s Report

The Chair provided an oral report.

Planning Applications

6.1 At the last meeting the submission of a pre-planning application was listed for two detached 4-bedroom houses on the site of the former shop in Munro Avenue. The applicant had heard nothing to date from Stirling Council Planning

 

Department. The Chair had contacted Councillor Thomson to ask him to investigate. [Action: Councillor Thomson]

 

 

Replacement of smart bins

6.2 The Chair had contacted Councillor Thomson to report that the smart bins at the Co-op were full and taped over, clearly not functioning. The smart bins were to be removed and replaced with conventional bins.

Cornton level crossing

6.3 A near miss had occurred at Cornton level crossing, when an elderly person had stepped onto the crossing in the path pf an oncoming train. Network Rail were now looking to convert the crossing from a diagonal pathway to a straight one.

Free bus travel for 5 to 21 year olds

6.4 With effect from 31 January 2022, 5 – 21 year olds would be entitled to free bus travel all over Scotland, subject to having a Young Scot card, issued by schools.

Free School Meals for P5

6.5 Stirling Council had extended free school meal provision to Primary 5 children.

Postponement of work on Bridgehaugh viaduct

6.6 £2.7 million renovation work on the Forth Railway viaduct between Riverside and Bridgehaugh has been postponed due to an unforeseen delay outwith Network Rail’s control. When work starts, Lover’s Walk will be closed, with likely traffic flow issues on Causewayhead Road. Heavy equipment would be stored at the Rugby Club.

Public football pitch at Aboyne Avenue

6.7 FES had confirmed that the football pitch at Aboyne Avenue was a public resource, available for children to play on.

Sustrans WCLS project – proposed removal of tarmac at Aboyne Avenue

6.8 Sustrans had been proposing to remove the section of tarmac at the end of Aboyne Avenue leading up to the football pitch. The Chair had made the point that this tarmac served as a useful parking space, and that its removal would push another ten cars onto Dunster Road, where there were already parking issues, and that the tarmac should be left in place.

Platinum Jubilee Beacon Trail

6.9 The Platinum Jubilee would be marked with a beacon trail. The Community Councils had been invited to apply if they wished to celebrate the event within their communities.

Provost Awards 2022 - Coronavirus Heroes

6.10 The forthcoming Provost Awards awards ceremony would recognise individuals or organisations who made an outstanding contribution to the community during the pandemic. The deadline for nominations to Stirling Council was 14 January.

Vandalism to public toilets, Causewayhead Park

6.11 In December, the door to the public toilets in Causewayhead had been kicked in.

 

7. Councillor’s Report

Councillor McGill provided an oral report.

Ongoing impact of Covid

7.1 Covid was continuing to have a very significant impact on health and social care in the region: Forth Valley Health Board was stopping all elective surgery, and the care sector was in crisis, with a shortage of home carers in particular, such that it was difficult for elderly patients to get care packages and get out of hospital. Whilst no schools had yet been forced to close, teachers were experiencing considerable pressures.

Rejigging of Stirling Council capital programme

7.2 Many projects had not been undertaken due to Covid. Consequently, the Council was rejigging its capital spend programme, with a particular focus on roads.

Stirling Council cutbacks

7.3 Stirling Council had to achieve a saving of £4.5 million in setting its budget for 2022-23.

8. Any Other Business

 

Changes to schedule for refuse collection

8.1 The new fortnightly collection of refuse was presenting problems for some residents, particularly in relation to the grey bin. Whilst it was possible to obtain a larger bin, Community Councillors did not see this as an optimum solution. It was further reported that the refuse tip at Polmont was in a poor state, though admittedly Covid had not helped the situation. The observation was made that fly- tipping had increased noticeably.

Roadside parking at Birds and Bees

8.2 Roadside parking at the Birds and bees continued to be very problematic, often obscuring the view of drivers coming down Easter Cornton Road, or emerging from Beech Lane.

Positioning of bins

8.3 One resident commented on the increased volume of litter in Causewayhead, now that there are fewer bins, and in particular the volume of litter at the junction of Dunster and Easter Easter Cornton Road. To alleviate the problem, it was suggested that the bin there be repositioned on the opposite side of the road. Whist the Co-op’s smart bins are not functioning as intended, becoming full to overflowing, and the Co-op now wish to dispose of them, nevertheless, they were seen to be good, large containers, which might still be of use.

8.4 It was noted that two members of staff from Wallace High School attend every day at the Co-op, Corrieri’s and Stephen’s, to ensure pupils dispose of litter properly.

 

Dog fouling

8.5 It was noted that Stirling had removed the bins for dog waste , which were considered to be too labour intensive operationally. However, there was no doubt that the problem of dog fouling appeared to be getting worse, and was probably linked to the growth in households’ acquisition of dogs during the pandemic.

Possible new features for Causewayhead Park

8.6 One resident expressed the view that Causewayhead Park needs a major refresh, suggesting consideration be given to a major redesign to include a water feature or burn, possibly even a waterfall from the Wallace Monument. Community Council members were doubtful about the feasibility of this latter feature, and the availability of funding for it, noting that the ground around the Wallace Monument belongs, not to Stirling Council, but to Cowane’s Trust. However, they suggested that a proposal for a water feature, on a miniature scale, might be made to the National Wallace Monument Forum, or alternatively via an application for Lottery funding. The resident was invited to liaise with Paul Mcdonald, the Community Council’s representative on the Wallace Monument Committee.

The meeting closed at 8.50pm. TASB/ 02.03.22