A retrospective planning application has been filed for the operation of the Wee Kirk takeaway. All documentation relating to the planning application can be viewed online here.
Since its launch, the takeaway has become quite popular with customers. However, at the same time, Stirling Council have received a number of objections from neighbours and other community members, as well as some comments in support. After discussions with the Wee Kirk team, comments have now been submitted by the community council.
The full text of the comments is below. In summary, the community council supports the new management in their efforts to revive the fortunes of the Kirkhouse Inn. However, the new external frying kitchen should not have been installed and operated without planning permission, and we believe that planning permission should not be granted until the problem of smells is solved.
Text of Community Council comments filed 14 April 2021
Strathblane Community Council has considered this application at its meetings in March and April 2021. Members of the community councils have met with the applicant and the owner of the Kirkhouse Inn, as well as speaking with those residents having raised objections.
It goes without saying that the community council wishes the Kirkhouse Inn to be restored to success after the lockdown, with full restaurant and pub functions. The prime location and historic building have been under-used over a decade or more. The ambition to establish the inn as a destination for fine dining and leisure, as well as a pub and social hub for the community, is welcomed.
The establishment of the Wee Kirk takeaway has been very popular among customers, particularly in the lockdown, but we believe that certain issues need to be addressed before it can be supported as a permanent operation.
As a matter of principle, the community council cannot support an operation which continues (and even expands the hours of operation), knowing that the necessary planning permission is not in place. It is unfair on other businesses when one business does not play by the same rules as the rest. We urge the authority to decide the application without delay. We urge the applicant to do its utmost to be a good neighbour.
Various grounds for objection have been given by neighbours and other residents in their objections. The grounds which is of most concern in our view is the one of smell, particularly the frying of fish smell which, if one is down-wind of it, is very powerful and definitely beyond what should be expected. As we understand the LDP, policy 2.6 states that
(ii) Class 3 uses (restaurants, cafes, snack bars etc.), public houses, and hot-food takeaways will be supported only where they will not be to the detriment of occupiers of adjacent properties by virtue of noise, disturbance, or odour, and there will be a presumption against siting public houses and hot-food takeaways adjacent to or on the ground floor of residential properties.
I understand policy 2.15 is what you are applying. Seemingly policy 2.15 would apply only if there were no “similar facilities” in the village, whatever “similar” means. In any case, policy 2.15 also requires attention to potential loss of amenity, and the issue of odour arises there.
You will have seen that certain of the immediate neighbours are particularly badly affected, while other close neighbours have indicated no problem. The fact that other neighbours are not affected does not mean the neighbours who suffer most should be ignored. Additionally, when the wind blows in another direction, the smell extends across the main A81 road, and beyond. This has been commented by other objectors passing by the site.
We hope that the applicant will be able to identify and implement some technical and/or operational measures, so that the smell nuisance is brought in check. Officers in planning, planning enforcement and environmental health should please work with the applicant to specify these measures as a condition of any planning permission.
You indicated that you are considering a time limit on any permission. This would be welcome, but our understanding from the applicant is that the proposal is for a permanent operation. Moreover they intend to use the new outdoor kitchen to provide cooking for bar meals and the like for customers indoors, even after “normal conditions” are restored. If the smell from the outdoors kitchen cannot be managed as well as in a proper indoors kitchen, with proper extractors, filters etc., then this should not be allowed. It would be wrong to allow a restaurant/pub to move its cooking outside, if the effect is merely to export the problem of smells to the neighbourhood, while the diners inside are protected.
With regard to other grounds of objection, we are not so concerned. The Kirkhouse Inn car park is a long-standing asset and gathering place used not only by patrons of the inn, but also walkers, cyclists and others. Provided the layout is safe and ample provisions for litter etc. are made on site, we do not see this as a reason to object. Again, however, we expect that the operator and owner of the inn will want to ensure that they and their customers are “good neighbours” as much as can be.
We note that the takeaway kitchen currently operates only until 9pm in the evenings. If permission is to be granted, we suggest that a 9pm closing of the kitchen should be imposed as a condition, not only with regard to smells, but also to ensure that outdoors customers have dispersed well before the pub closes. We understand that the applicant would be amenable to such a condition.
In conclusion, the community council supports the new management in their efforts to revive the fortunes of the Kirkhouse Inn. However, the new external frying kitchen should not have been installed and operated without planning permission, and planning permission should not be granted until the problem of smells is solved.