In a meeting on Monday (January 10) councillors voted down the opportunity to re-examine the opportunity to allow the Rie-Achan Road Car Park to be used for operating a food outlet.
They were considering this opportunity after a petition put forward to the council, with over 1,000 signatures, by – Pitlochry locals- the McCallum family.
Their petition is asking the council to “rehear the matter with the facts that no parking loss can be achieved and that both supporters and objectors are heard.”
During their deputation to the council’s property sub-committee, Mia McCallum said: “Our proposal will not decrease parking spaces, it won’t open floodgate for burger vans.
“Pitlochry’s economy has suffered and deteriorated for years, we are offering an environmentally friendly project that bring new tourists and new jobs.
“This has a huge community support as demonstrated by the petition.”
During the last meeting of the property sub-committee which discussed this issue, councillors expressed that it was not clear if replacement parking was available.
In the report prepared for the meeting, council officers clarified that: “The principle of the loss of 12 spaces, has already been accepted by the Planning & Development Management Committee, subject to the cost of their replacement elsewhere being met by the applicant.”
However, some residents in Pitlochry have other concerns about the proposal to allow the Rie-Achan Car Park to be leased for business use.
They also shared their contention that a number of the signatures on the McCallum’s petition were not those of local people, including from people as far as abroad.
In her deputation, Fiona Hamilton – a resident living close to the car park- said: “We are aware that some Pitlochry residents have expressed support for this proposal. They do not live adjacent to the car park. In fact, a number of these people are very vocal about traffic and parking issues in the parts of town where they live.
“These same people have dominated recent community council meetings, demanding that action is taken to reduce the negative impact that traffic and parking is having on their lives. Yet they support a proposal which will have an enormous negative impact on the lives of other residents, exacerbate existing traffic and parking issues and endanger the safety of pedestrians and other road users.”
Objectors said in the meeting that the issue for them was not the proposed Thai restaurant itself but the proposal to allow the car park to be used to vendor food.
Councillor Wilson – who voted against reconsidering the plans – said: “This is a decision about the principle of deciding if we should have the opportunity to advertise the commercial development in a car park.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have an external policy on the matter, but we do have a long history of protecting our car parks for public use. And I think that’s basically very important thing.”
However, councillor Alasdair Ballie offered an amendment to the motion which proposed: “This committee notes the petition asking that it reconsider its decision of 14 June 2021 not to lease part of the Rie-Achan Road car park for a commercial use.”
He noted that in the past the Perth and Kinross Council proposed to use the Thimblerow Car Park as an Eco-hub offering retail, food and a cinema outlet.
Councillor Ballie expanded: “This seems to be strange dichotomy where in Perth, when a very similar matter came up around a development on the existing Thimble Road Car Park, the logic was very much that the city of Perth needs to move beyond being obsessed with car parking as the only driver of economic growth.
“With the climate emergency in mind, we maybe need to review our priorities, however, in Pitlochry that doesn’t seem to be the case. And it seems that every parking space in Pitlochry is absolutely vital.”
At the end of the meeting, councillors voted 4 to 3 in favour of the motion ‘that the petition be noted and that no further action be taken.’
Councillor Lyall – who proposed the motion – ended the meeting by saying that: “I can give the committee every assurance that I will work with the McCallum family to try and find an acceptable site within Pitlochry or beyond, if they so choose.”