Debate on future of town rages

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DISAGREEMENT over the fate of a Carnoustie landmark has prompted one town councillor to call for an overriding ‘vision’ to be implemented.

Independent councillor Bill Bowles argued for a delay on plans for the old Fairway Garage at the recent full Angus Council meeting, and since then has announced his desire to see a ‘Vision for Carnoustie’.

At the meeting in Forfar on Thursday, September 14, Councillor Bowles was able to secure a six-week delay on plans to convert the art deco building into three one bedroom council flats.

He said: “There is just cause for this decision to be held off and revisited once we’ve heard what the people want to do with their town, not what we want to do with their town.”

Councillor Bowles outlined his plan: “We are missing a square and central facilities, planned in Carnoustie right in the middle of the retail area would be ideal. We’ve got one shot at this basically.

“We could remove the building and have an open space for things we don’t have at the moment, like somewhere for the Christmas tree, a stage for live music, a town festival or the farmers’ market.

“It could be used as a car park most of the time and it would expand from 33 to 40 spaces, which are needed there.”

All three Carnoustie councillors are scheduled to meet on October 1 to discuss the town’s requirements, and Councillor Bowles hoped that a community consultation would take place on November 28 with a follow up on January 22.

He added: “We have to take this opportunity to make this town right. If the majority of the town says it should be three flats and the Fairways is an iconic, Art Deco building, then so be it.

“I accept we need housing in Carnoustie, I accept we are short of one bedroom accommodation. There’s an overburdening of facilities, we need to make sure they go hand in hand. Facilities first and then the housing after these are in place.”

Angus Council’s neighbourhood services director Ron Ashton commented on the Fairway Garage. He said: “A lot of the issues have been discussed in the past, and it has been looked at over the years but because of the very complex ownership needs, nothing has come to fruition.”

Angus Provost and Carnoustie SNP councillor Helen Oswald has been pressing for the Fairway building to be converted into housing for years, only to be ‘jilted at the altar’.

She said: “If Mr Ashton is able to check his emails that far back he will find that in 2007 on May 5 he had an email from me asking what plans were for the Fairway.

“I have spent many hours discussing this with Angus Housing Association and our officers only for things to happen at the eleventh hour.

“I’m prepared to allow it to be deferred for one cycle but we really need to get this thing going.”

Councillor Brian Boyd supported a delay at the Fairway, but has an alternative view of what should be developed.

He said: “I asked for the delay to see it done properly and not half heartedly. I’m still of the view that if we have this consultation people will still want to see the building stay and the flats to be built.

“Sometimes you’ve got to put it in the hands of the councillors, that’s what we are elected to do.

“Having three or four more houses when we have 252 people waiting for one, that takes priority. I think that once we make this we will find that a town square will be quite far down the list.”

Peter Burke, chair of Carnoustie Development Group was unable to comment on behalf of the group. He said: “Speaking personally, I think it’s an opportunity to use all the ground there for a town focal point. It is something that I’ll be recommending that the CDG discuss in some depth in the near future.”

Chair of Carnoustie Community Council Jim Simpson added: “The community council is backing an extension to the six weeks that Angus Council has already given, but it does not have a specific view on what’s happening to the flats.

“We had a big discussion about it and I was concerned how they would conduct a community consultation, because in the past there hasn’t been a mechanism for conducting one. Are they going to conduct a survey? How do you elicit the views of the community in general rather than just those of a few?”