Portsoy chapel of rest plans get go-ahead
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COUNCILLORS approved plans last week to build a new chapel of rest in Portsoy.
One local councillor said the "overly cautious" approach by planners was unwarranted for the rest room and chapel in Burnside Street after the plans were given the go-ahead by the Banff and Buchan Area Committee on March 30.
The plans were submitted by GP Waypoint Design, on behalf of funeral director David Urquhart, of Glenglassaugh Workshops.
There were some objections from residents, who claimed it would also take up recreation space and restrict access to a nearby sheltered housing complex.
Banff and District SNP Councillor Glen Reynolds put forward the motion for approval, seconded by Aligned Independent Councillor John Cox.
The application had been deferred on March 31 last year to enable the applicant to provide a flood risk assessment.
Council planners' recommendation had been to refuse the plans over parking and flooding concerns and the stance remained unchanged when the matter came before councillors again.
During the meeting, Cllr Cox asked: "Is it a precautionary approach being taken, rather than evidential? Because I haven't been aware of flooding in that location and we've got to consider the new developments taking place in that location."
Applicant Mr Urquhart told the committee: "There is new legislation being introduced this year and we will have to comply or the business will not be allowed to operate and we will have to cease trading as a funeral director in Portsoy.
"There is no other facility in the area and if this is not approved the nearest one will be either Banff or Buckie, where all the next of kin will have to travel to."
He said there would be no more than two services a month at the site, with the main use as a rest room for family members to say their goodbyes.
Cllr Reynolds said afterwards: "In determining this application, it was important to ensure that the representations from those people who opposed the application were considered alongside the merits of the application.
"This matter was previously deferred to enable further evidence to be submitted with regard to the potential flood risk at the location. The committee was seemingly reassured by the evidence and representations from the applicants and their agents, that the flooding risk was historic and drainage works had facilitated this. The applicant also gave reassurances in terms of the construction and development as proposed that would further minimise any flood risk.
"I was very impressed by what the applicants had said in relation to the facility addressing the needs of the Portsoy community that will be able to pay their last respects to loved ones locally, and without needing to travel outwith Portsoy to do so.
"Issues surrounding parking and the car parking facilities were also comprehensively discussed, allaying fears in this respect, along with the minimal amount of footfall and activity around the site."
He added: "Any such application is a balancing act and, on this occasion, from an evidential point of view, I found we had sufficient evidence before us to support the development, and that the overly cautious and precautionary approach taken by the planning service was not warranted in light of the evidence and representations that we heard.
"Ultimately, any fears we had were allayed."