By MARTYN McLAUGHLIN
Published on Thursday 29 March 2012 12:21
SHE is Scotland’s wealthiest woman, whose plans for a bespoke residence near her sprawling country estate incurred the wrath of conservationists and neighbours.
But Stagecoach tycoon Ann Gloag, 69, has secured victory in her attempt to build a six-bedroom property near her Perthshire home.
Ms Gloag, who along with her brother Brian Souter has amassed an estimated £650m through the transport empire, upset residents near Kinfauns Castle on the outskirts of Perth after she submitted a planning application for the new home.
The plans showed that the house, overlooking a pond, would boast a drawing room, study, dining room, and six bedrooms. The proposal led her neighbours to complain that it would ruin their privacy and seclusion, and cause a drop in the area’s property values.
Forestry Commission Scotland also objected, warning authorities that were the scheme to go ahead, it would ruin an area of ancient woodland.
However, Perth and Kinross Council yesterday gave the application the green light, along with plans for a more modest three-bedroom bungalow, to be used for an employee who cares for a member of Ms Gloag’s family at Kinfauns.
The row over the two homes represented the latest dispute over planning issues at Ms Gloag’s estate. Five years ago, the multi-millionairess was at the centre of a test case involving right to roam legislation, winning her battle against the Ramblers Association Scotland and Perth and Kinross Council to erect a fence around a 12-acre area of Kinfauns.
As part of the local authority’s decision to approve the plans for the new properties, the businesswoman and philanthropist will pay a £12,790 “education contribution” fee as a condition of the planning permission. The money will be used to fund improvements and increase pupil capacity at the nearby Kinnoull Primary School.
Nonetheless, the decision will leave some living nearby downhearted. In a statement submitted during the planning process, one neighbour told of how they were “deeply saddened, shocked and upset about the proposal”.
They wrote: “We understand the need for a carer providing 24-hour call for the castle. However, there must be an alternative which would be less disruptive, less costly and which would minimise the unnecessary development in an area of natural beauty.
“We have no guarantee of our perfect location remaining and will then have hanging over us the fear that in years down the line we could be living in a housing estate which would definitely devalue our home.”
Forestry Commission Scotland claimed the building of the large house would cause loss of woodland cover and fragmentation, and said it was in direct contravention of planning policies.
However, planning officials, who gave the scheme the go-ahead earlier this month, ruled they could find no reasons to justify refusal and said the properties would not have an adverse impact on their surroundings.
A spokeswoman for Ms Gloag said she did not wish to comment.