A public hearing has been arranged to debate controversial plans for a new building in one of Scotland’s most picturesque towns.
Planning chiefs have raised flooding concerns about the proposal for a new shop and visitor centre, which is envisaged to have self-catering accommodation upstairs, in Tobermory.
Argyll and Bute Council’s planning committee was due to make a decision yesterday after more than 50 locals voiced support for the application.
Planning chiefs recommended the scheme for refusal after the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) objected on the basis the building may cause a flood risk.
However, local supporters argued that rejecting it would hold up future plans for the town’s harbour.
Others have argued the building would be of a high quality and would be a significant enhancement of the waterfront and support tourism.
The local authority yesterday confirmed that any decision has been put off until there is a hearing, which is likely to take place in Tobermory.
The date for the event is yet to be set.
Argyll Properties wants to create the development on land adjacent to the harbour association’s Taigh Solais premises, which is home to Mull Aquarium, the public toilet and laundry and shower facilities.
The firm also owns neighbouring MacGoghans, which was destroyed by fire in May. There are plans to begin rebuilding the pub next month.
Under the latest proposal, a convenience store and three self-catering units would be in the new building while the visitor centre could be used by the harbour association to expand its attractions.
Anne Fraser, general manager of Tobermory Harbour Association, said the organisation had an agreement in place with the developers.
She added: “Holding up development of the business space within this building is delaying future plans for the harbour.
“The proposed plan for a visitor centre extension could potentially be used to expand our much loved and well used Mull Aquarium – or for a tourist information site which is very much needed in Tobermory.”
But in their report to councillors, planning officers said: “Sepa has objected to the application in principle as it introduces a new built development to a previously undeveloped site – and therefore places additional buildings and people at risk from flooding.”
Developers argued that they have revised the plans to mitigate against that risk in various ways, including raising the ground floor level and providing a flood refuge area.
If councillors eventually back the project after the hearing, it will have to be referred to Scottish ministers for a final decision.