Councillors are preparing to make a “morally correct” decision to grant planning permission to an Oban businessman who built a boat hut to take his disabled wife sailing.
Graham MacQueen, a charity worker and deputy lieutenant for Argyll and Bute, built the shelter at Clachan Seil, near the famous Bridge Over the Atlantic, under the mistaken impression that it did not require planning consent.
His wife Morven, who suffers from MS, is able to visit the site in their specially adapted boat, along with other disabled family members.
Mr MacQueen has applied for retrospective planning consent and if not approved, he will be forced to tear the hut down.
At a public hearing of Argyll and Bute Council’s planning committee yesterday, Mrs MacQueen, who is confined to a wheelchair, said: “There are so many activities I am unable to join in with my family. My husband has achieved the impossible and made it easier for me to accompany him to the slipway.
“It is a wonderful place to visit and I really feel the health benefits from being in the fresh air. Without this shelter it would not be possible for me to go with my family. If planning permission is not granted I will feel deprived and once again excluded from enjoying recreational times with my family.”
The application attracted 115 expressions of support and 17 objections.
Planning officers recommended that the proposal be refused, stating the hut has an adverse impact on a scenic area.
Tim Williams said: “It is not the intention of the planning authority to deprive respite or care to the applicant and his family.
“The fact remains it is the considered opinion of the planning authority that this is not the right development and is not in the right place.”
He said it was the responsibility of the planners to act without personal empathy or compassion to one side.
Councillors said they wanted to support the planning application and continued the decision to the next planning committee meeting on April 18 to allow them to prepare a competent motion.
Richard Trail said: “Sometimes human need over-rides cold hard logic of plans and the law. I’m sympathetic to finding a way to approve this application.”
Councillor Roddy McCuish added: “Some things are morally right and technically wrong. Being morally correct over-rides the technical side of this.”
Following the hearing Mr MacQueen said: “It’s very obvious I have brought huge difficulties to the planning office, I apologise. I understand it has been a difficult process for them.
“The support of the public has been outstanding.”