A RESIDENT has hit out at the Scottish Government’s decision to overturn the rejection of plans to extend a golf club.
The Drumchapel woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she was “heartbroken” when she was walking up to Castlehill Fort, part of the Antonine Wall, last month and found that work had begun at Bearsden Golf Club – which she said has left it looking like a “bomb site”.
She says no residents in Drumchapel, where she lives, had been made aware of the work, despite the fact that the area sits on one side of Castlehill, with Bearsden on the other.
She said: “I was just walking up about a week ago, and I just got there, and it was gone, the whole meadow was just gone, it’s like someone’s peeled up a carpet.
“And everyone I’ve spoken to in Drumchapel had no idea.”
In July 2020, East Dunbartonshire Council rejected plans to extend the course on the basis that it was likely to put the remains of UNESCO world heritage site Antonine Wall at “unacceptable risk of damage or destruction”, it would harm the landscape character, visual amenity and biodiversity of the area, and it would reduce access to Castlehill and Garscadden Woods by replacing the core path with a “less direct and less attractive” route.
We previously reported the course alterations were linked to a development from Robertson Homes at Thorn Road.
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Bearsden Golf Club appealed and in December of that year, the Scottish Government made the decision to overturn the council’s refusal of the plan, which our Drumchapel resident has criticized.
She asked: “What is the point of having planning processes if the Scottish Government can just go in and upend them?
“We hear nothing but ‘let’s protect biodiversity’ and yet probably one of the most biodiverse areas in the whole of Glasgow has just been ripped up because a wealthy golf club wants to build on it.”
The plans were approved on the conditions that no development would take place until the developer secured the implementation of a program of archaeological works and a protection plan for the Antonine Wall, the plans were revised so they minimized any adverse impact on the landscape, and that all details of proposed landscaping works were submitted to and approved by the planning authority.
The decision notice also stated that there needed to be a detailed habitat mitigation plan submitted to help protect the local environment, a plan showing a footpath reinstated on the southern boundary of the golf course to connect the existing path into Garscadden Wood, a detailed plan for drainage proposals to protect the area from flooding, and a detailed plan for the risk of stray golf balls.
However, the resident says no one in Drumchapel was made aware the plans had been given the green light by the government because it lies within the East Dunbartonshire Council area, despite them being just as affected by the development, and that there is no information available online as to how the conditions were met.
She said: “I’ve read the planning documents and it’s so difficult to understand why that’s been overturned because it is home to so many creatures.
“There’s sparrowhawks, there’s foxes, there’s bats, you see so much wildlife out there.
“It’s actually heartbreaking when you see it, it looks like a bomb site or something like that.
“I was in tears when I went up there and I saw it for the first time, it’s just horrific.”
While the course expansion does lie within the East Dunbartonshire Council area, it lies so close to the border with Glasgow City Council that officers were sent to check that trees marked for removal were not within their council area.
Our resident said: “I genuinely don’t think anyone from Drumchapel has a clue, I think there’s been the usual pre-conception of nobody in Drumchapel will care because ‘we’re a fancy golf club in Bearsden’.
“It’s just horrible the way it’s been done.
“I think they’ve done it very under the radar and nobody on the Drumchapel side knew, who walk there and walk their dogs and use it for leisure and all that kind of thing.”
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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This application was decided by an independent reporter.
“The reporter is required to take into account local views and make the decision on the case’s planning merits in accordance with the local development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
“The reporter concluded that the overall ecological value of the site will not be compromised and, indeed, has the potential to be enhanced, with benefits for leisure.
“More than 400 parties who made representations on this appeal were notified of the reporter’s decision.”
Bearsden Golf Club was contacted for comment.