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Councillor Calls Parking ‘Red Herring’ in Rie-Achan Road Car Park Decision

After the council met to decide if they will be advertising spaces in the Rie-Achan Road car park for class three business use, the property sub committee decided not to go ahead with the proposal.

One member of the council is suggesting that the meeting went ‘down a rabbit hole’ in discussing the use of parking.

Councillor Alasdair Bailey put forward an amendment to delay the decision until more facts could be established.

He said: “The loss of parking spaces to this development was a red herring that unfortunately sent many of my colleagues down a rabbit hole during the meeting.

“I supported the proposal because not only were we to receive compensation to enable us to build more parking, it is a sustainable development that re-uses former railway carriages and will attract customers who are more likely than most to travel by train and therefore not require parking.

“If we decided every proposal at council on the basis of parking alone, not much would get done. We have to move beyond a car-based economy and make it easier for folk to travel by more sustainable means.”

Although council officers had identified a total of 12 replacement parking bays at a total cost of £23,000, the decision was taken not to advertise the spaces.

The council stress that the decision was not specifically over the proposal to build a Thai restaurant, The Wee Choo Choo, in the car park, but to offer the land to be used by eateries so that they could ensure best value.

A Perth & Kinross Council spokesperson said: “Last week the Property Sub-Committee voted on whether to market the site at Rie-Achan Road Car Park for lease. Whilst Mr McCallum does have planning consent for the site, in terms of our duty to deliver best value, the Council was required to make a decision as the landowner about whether it was prepared to lease the land for Class 3 business use in general. It was not considering the merits of any specific proposals for it from Mr McCallum.”

“Paragraph 1.4 of the report presented to the Committee stated a condition of planning consent previously granted for the railway carriage restaurant on the site was to contribute towards replacement parking spaces and compensate the Council. That is factually correct and particular to Mr McCallum’s planning consent but was not material to the decision on whether or not to market the site and invite offers.
“Councillors on the Property Sub-Committee were able to ask questions of officers and anyone making a deputation before casting their vote on whether to lease an area of the car park.

“Councillors voted five to two against leasing the site to anyone.”

However, Fergus McCallum, director of the Wee Choo Choo, contends that the spaces we is prepared to replace should have been made more clear.

He said: “I think that the councillors on the estates sub-committee tried their very best to establish the facts and were only given anecdotal opinions.

“I have in writing that the officials in the room had prepared a planning condition for me to pay £23,000 for 8 replacement spaces in Rie-Achan Road and 4 in Atholl Road Car Park.

“The fact I had been asking for those conditions for weeks and they handed them to me the next day deprived the councillors of that hard fact to evaluate

“That is inappropriate behaviour by the officials when the report they prepared said 12 spaces would be lost.”

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