Meeting with Western Ferries
Following our meeting of last Wednesday, the comments made at that meeting and the subsequent conversations that I have had with some of those present at the meeting and afterwards, please note the following as my précis regarding the meeting and the current situation:
s1At the Public Meeting held at Younger Hall, excluding the 3 employees from Western Ferries, me (as the Chair) and one other attendee (who you all knew to be a member of LL&TNP board, and therefore instructed me ahead of the meeting that whilst he was attending as a local resident, he would abstain from any voting that might take place), 27 members of the Community were in attendance.
s2Discussions ensued regarding the latest plans submitted on behalf of Western Ferries, that contained ‘overlays’ of the proposed structural changes/additions. When I asked the question ‘Does anyone here feel that the plans adequately show the proposed structural changes and additions’, there were no shows of hands. Further discussion confirmed that all 27 present were of the opinion that the newly submitted plans did not provide an adequate basis to form an accurate opinion on the grounds that they were believed to be ‘not to scale or the correct perspective’. Three members of those present showed experience and familiarity with Computer Aided Design software, and commented that in their opinion, it would have been easy to produce good quality 3D images to scale and perspective. Western Ferries Marine Engineer provided responses relating to the discussion, but those present were not happy with the responses received.
s3The actual type of the proposed construction was discussed at length. Those present were of the opinion that the proposed metal pilings, gangway and other parts would be at odds with the aesthetics of the current wooden structure, and not in line with the rules that govern listed and historic buildings and structures. Those present asked if a complete wooden structure had been, would be or could be considered instead of the unsightly metal piles. Western Ferries explained that the only design that would allow adequate compliance with the health and safety of the crews and their vessels, and have sufficient longevity was the design that had been proposed and subject to this planning application. Western Ferries also stated that any design that may have featured ‘all wood’ would have a maximum working life of 75 years, would be likely to compromise the safety of the crews and security of the vessels, and would cost at least 3 times more than the estimated £1.5Million of the current proposal.
s4A resident made the point that recently condemned sheds located on the pier, and owned by Western Ferries, had obviously not been maintained adequately…..because if they had been, they would not have been allowed to deteriorate to the degree that they had done. It was further stated that opinion of those present was that very little maintenance had been undertaken to the pier over recent years. Western Ferries stated that they had invested ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ on the pier and its attachments since taking ownership in 1971, and had done their best to maintain the same as well as the ageing structure would allow. Western Ferries also confirmed that regardless of the planning application, they had a legal and moral duty to maintain Kilmun Pier, including the wooden construction that was subject to much of the discussion of this meeting, and they would continue to do so.
s5I informed those present that I, and no other person under my instruction or guidance, was taking minutes of this meeting, although I would be presenting a report to LL&TNP Planning Department containing a précis of this meeting. A member of those attending stated that it was believed that if more than 20 people raised objections to a planning application, it was then subject to a Public Hearing, if the planning application were to be under the auspices of Argyll & Bute Council. It was suggested that a Public Hearing should take place, arranged by LL&TNP Planning Department, due to the strength of feeling of those present. I stated that I would include this comment within my report.
s6The overall feedback from those residents who attended this meeting was that they believed the current planning application should be rejected, in favour of an application that is more sympathetic to the aesthetics of the current wooden structure. Those present considered that if the current application were to be allowed, it would detract from the historic nature and appearance of the pier in its current guise. Western Ferries stated that the current planning application would provide a secure mooring for their vessels and a safer working environment for their crews for many years to come. They stated that it would allow their vessels to be moored in total compliance with the current Marine regulations, and they felt that such compliance could not be achieved with the current structure, modified current structure or replacement made wholly from wood.
s7I reminded every person present that no minutes were being taken of the meeting, and that I would produce a ‘report’ to LL&TNP Planning Dept. of my recollection of the meeting. I stated, and reiterated on a number of occasions that whilst I would so report to LL&TNP Planning Dept., I reminded those present at the meeting that any and every person present, if they felt to inclined, should formally make contact with LL&TNP Planning Dept., and express their views. I was asked why there was no official representation at the meeting from LL&TNP Planning Department. I stated that this was because LL&TNP Planning Department policy is such that they will not attend any meeting that discusses a ‘live’ application.
The meeting commenced at 1830hrs, and was closed, there being no further comments at 2031hrs.
I have sought to include all of the information which I believe to be salient and pertinent to the meeting and planning application, and accept that I may have paraphrased in some cases, but I have tried to present an accurate and impartial précis of the meeting that took place. I trust that it will be accepted by all who were present as a true and unbiased record, and apologise if I have forgotten, overlooked or placed an unfair bias upon anything that was discussed or otherwise deemed to be of importance. If this is the case, please respond to me, and I will direct such corrections or additions to the intended recipients of this email.
s*8It should be noted that since the meeting, I have held telephone discussions with some residents who were present at the meeting. One suggestion that was proposed to me, and was requested that I passed onto LL&TNP Planning Department was as follows:
In order to break through the differing and numerous objections to the current proposal maybe an entirely new approach might be the answer. One that is both functional and to modern working specifications, plus One that would be an aesthetic statement for the future heritage. Thus the pier would be a working environment but also a cultural asset and artistic statement for future generations. This would require the removal of the current ailing wooden pier and the replacement being as above.
A modern solution serving both functional and aesthetic requirements. Inevitably this would be with modern materials in keeping with the concept of a modern working pier built with an awareness of the setting and community. This would bear in mind the Park requirements of development that would NOT adversely ‘affect their character, appearance, or setting’
This report/ précis is sent to you, with respect, for your information and consideration.
Brian R. Tester
Kilmun Community Council