Councillors in South Ayrshire have backed a decision to refuse planning permission for a housing development outside Monkton.

The application, for 14 homes on land adjacent to Brierside Farm, was turned down by planning officers under delegated powers in February.

Applicant Stuart Leith appealed to South Ayrshire Council’s Local Review Body (LRB), which originally delayed a decision until councillors had seen the site for themselves.

And having now visited the area, the LRB's members have now backed officers' initial refusal.

The developer had sought to persuade councillors that the development site was a brownfield site, having been home to a mill in the 19th century.

However, planners pushed back on the claim, pointing out the Adamton Mill had been across the road from the proposed housing.

Monkton Community Council had objected to the proposal, saying it was not an allocated development site, there was no shortfall of housing in the area, and suggesting that there was a flood risk.

Planners had said that the site was outside the Monkton settlement area, and that the applicant did not provide evidence that the benefit to the community or economy, or the need for homes, outweighed this.

They said that the application did not provide sufficient information around flood risk.

Edesign Architecture & Planning Scotland, representing Mr Leith, said they had provided relevant points that had not been suitably addressed by planners. 

They reiterated the argument around the historic use for corn mills, stating: “The current site is a brownfield site with existing structures both partially exposed and larger areas of structure concealed by heavy overgrowth, the development is therefore rehabilitating a brownfield former working site.”

They added that other developments in the area had been approved and argued that there is a need for housing, citing the investment in Prestwick space hub, which aims to created almost 600 new jobs.

This investment, and the increase in housing outwith cities was growing, meant that the existing settlement boundary would be ‘unsustainable’.

They added: “The proximity of the development to such development and sources of employment would encourage shorter commutes, greener transport initiative and better work life balance for prospective homeowners/workers.”

The architect also argued that other developments were being constructed and the fact that plots were being sold for £200,000 to £300,000 ‘clearly demonstrates the demand for these properties in this area’.

At the LRB's meeting, Councillor Ian Cavana (Labour, Ayr North) said that he felt that there should be a tree preservation order on the site and raised concerns that there was insufficient information from the developer.

“There is not enough meat on the bones for me to pass this,” he added.

Councillor Martin Kilbride (Conservative, Prestwick) commented that the site visit had been worthwhile, adding that the number of trees meant that the site was ‘more like a forest’ than woods described in the planning report.

Councillor Kenny Bell (Conservative, Troon), who chaired the LRB, raised the issue of the brownfield claim.

He said the applicant had stated the old mill had been on the site, but that the council had established it was on the opposite side of the road.

Council planning officer James Hall agreed, pointing out that remnants of the mill still stood on land outwith the proposed development.

Councillors unanimously agreed to uphold the refusal.