AN application to built a new toilet block at the rear of one of Stonehaven’s most venerated buildings has been given the green light by councillors this week.
The proposals, put forward by the proprietor of the Ship Inn, Simon Cruickshank, were approved by seven votes to three at a meeting of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee on Tuesday.
Mr Cruickshank, who was granted full planning permission and listed building consent, wants to built a pitched roof toilet block to the rear of the Catergory C listed building, housing male, female and disabled toilets as well as a staff/changing room.
The block will be linked to the Inn building by a pitched link section which crosses the small lane running to the rear of the building.
The proposal, which was recommended for approval by council officers, follows a previous planning application which was withdrawn following concerns about the design of the building.
The Ship Inn was built around 1770 and occupies a prominent position on the town’s Shorehead - a key characteristic of the harbour and the Stonehaven Conservation area.
Mr Cruickshank said: “The facilities in the Ship Inn for the public to use on the ground floor are very antiquated and really do not do us any favours. The only way we can provide suitable facilities of the quality that is required these days in the 21st century is to build a block at the back.
“It is a modern extension to an old building but there is nothing else we can do. I feel that we’ve tried to make it as attractive as we can, it is a small narrow site which isn’t used for anything else. It is an expensive thing, it is something that we have gone into in detail and great care to try and make is as best we can.”
Four letters of represenation were received by the council in relation to the application which raised various concerns.
One objector stated that the block would have a detrimental impact on the special character and siting of the conservation area, that the extension would “not respect or enhance” the architectural or visual qualities of the area and that the building would be “disjointed”.
Another local resident said he felt the development would have an effect on the value of his house, which sits directly on the boundary of the site, and pointed out his concerns over the constant noise which would be generated from late morning to late at night every day by the facility.
Other issues raised centered around the blockage of a traditional right of way leading across the site and safety concerns over the sea cadet’s fire exit from their boat shed which also sits on the patch of land.
However a report before councillors stated: “It is considered that the well thought out design of the link section – with a slated pitched roof and timber panel walls – and toilet block itself – again with a pitched slate roof and harl to match the Inn – respect the historic character and appearance of the conservation area.
“This design represents a contextual awareness, through replicating the design and roof form of the adjacent store building and being sympathetic to the Inn. The proposal is considered to have an acceptable impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area.”
It continues: “The service is satisfied that the principle of the building is appropriate for the site, and would not in itself lower the amenity of neighbouring property through loss of privacy
or sun light.
“In terms of noise and visual amenity, the service is satisfied that there will be no concern – this position is supported by the Environmental Health Service.”
Stonehaven and Lower Deeside councillor Peter Bellarby proposed that the application be refused, and was seconded by fellow ward councillor Graeme Clark who agreed that the toilet block would have a negative impact on the character and amenity of the conservation area.
However, they were defeated in a vote 7-3 in favour of the application.
Councillor Jean Dick said: “I think this is a very, very difficult one because I understand what is being said regarding the conservation area but the Ship Inn is a thriving business which provides a valuable service to the community and to tourism and the toilets at the moment are definitely inadequate.”
Councillor George Carr agreed and said: “This is a very difficult one to balance. We are absolutely wanting to see the Ship continue to be a thriving business but I think there are a few things which could be looked at.”