Government lets house bid go ahead

The mansion
The mansion

A derelict mansion looks set to be completely restored after a controversial planning appeal was granted.

Strathyre Properties applied for planning permission to develop Larbert House, which has B listed status, into 20 flats and the adjacent crumbling stables block into eight mews- style homes.

However their application was refused by five votes to four at Falkirk Council Planning Committee last April, despite officials recommending it be approved, with overcrowding at the near-by Larbert Village Primary cited as the reason.

Grant Keenan, managing director of the property firm, appealed the decision through the Scottish Government and it was upheld following a site visit. The officers found the proposals to be sensitive to the building and surroundings and to comply with wider development plans.

Mr Keenan, who lives in Larbert, said he was delighted the Falkirk Council decision was overturned.

The dad-of-three said: “It’s been a long process but we are just ecstatic the planning application has gone through.

“We, as a company and as a family, had everything resting on this and we could not afford for it not to happen.”

Larbert House was built in 1822 and is situated near the new Forth Valley Royal Hospital, in the grounds of the old RSNH. It was last used by the NHS but has been in poor condition since a fire at the end of 2006 caused extensive damage, including a roof cave-in.

The building was still owned by NHS Forth Valley and if the house had deteriorated any further it would have been responsible for demolishing the house in order to avoid safety concerns - a bill which could have ran into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Grant, who has worked on restoration projects before, added: “I’m so happy the house will be saved, I really don’t think it would have lasted another winter and would have had to be demolished. It’s mainly down to luck that it is still standing today.

“Now the work really begins. Restoring houses is costly and difficult but it will be more than worth it to save hundreds of years of history.

“It’s going to bring a lot of jobs to the area and transform Larbert House back to it’s former glory.”

The developers still have to reach agreements with Falkirk Council over contributions to education and transport links, but Strathyre Properties hopes to start work before Christmas and have the first homeowners in by early summer 2013.