Two former schools are set to be turned into a housing estate despite fears of rising crime and unemployment.
Objectors to the Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership proposal to put up 31 homes on site of the old Wallace Hall Academy and Primary in Thornhill fear that those allocated for social housing would be filled by “unemployed people from Dumfries”.
And they claim the site would create the potential for a rise in crime with elderly people “forced to live in fear”, a risk of vandalism and theft and “problems with unemployed people living opposite a school”.
They paint a picture of local services being swamped, given that approval was recently given to a 180 home development at Queensberry Brae, arguing the health centre and dentist will not be able to cope, questioning whether the new schools will be able to cater for a large number of children and pointing out there are no jobs in the town.
Thornhill community council claims the development would have 20 homes per hectare, almost two-and-a-half times the average density for the area, as well as raising traffic fears – particularly for Manse Road where there is no pavement in front of existing properties.
DGHP is seeking permission to put up 16 semi-detached and two detached two storey houses and nine single storey houses on the site of the old academy, with a further four on that of the C listed primary school, between Manse Road and Station Road. The site already has permission for 25 houses and 12 flats.
Twenty two objections will be heard by the planning applications committee next week, and a report to members points out that whilst a “lack of employment opportunities is regrettable, this is not in itself justification to prevent additional persons living in Thornhill”.
Whether people are employed or unemployed is not material to the application and the housing developments do not “represent a population increase significantly greater” than that anticipated under the Nithsdale Local Plan.
The report adds: “Furthermore, it is normally the case that an increase in demand drives an increase in service provision.”
Councillors are urged to give the go-ahead with a string of conditions and a Section75 Agreement requiring DGHP to include six affordable houses in the development.