AN Scottish Commercials has a long established garage across the road from the parking lot in the village. It had applied for a continuation of use permission to use the site – once the site of the Star and Garter – for the sale and display of vehicles.
Temporary planning permission was granted for the change of use from vacant land to the display of cars and vans for sale in December 2015. That permission expired in December last year.Other planning conditions demanding a low fence or wall around the site and parking for customers were not complied with.
An agent for the firm told West Lothian Council’s Development Management committee that the site had been a dumping ground before the firm began to use it for display purposes. Issues over ownership of the land had caused problems with complying with planning conditions.
She added that site was crucial to the business and no other sites had been found which were suitable to accommodate the number of vehicles.
Planners recommended refusal of planning permission. A report to committee said: “The original use of the land was low key and ancillary to the main use of the garage business.
“Conditions have not been complied with and the nature of the use of the site has altered significantly over the past three years to the detriment of neighbours and the village in general.”
Planners suggested a move to a more commercial location would be better.
Councillor David Tait asked planners if there was suitable commercial areas designated in or around the Winchburgh area. There is land zoned for commercial use but any development is two to three years away.
The report added: “The garage business appears to be successful and in general the council supports the expansion of local businesses. This however has to be considered within the context of the area and cannot be at the expense of residential and visual amenity.”
There were 13 letters of representation , three in support of the business, and ten objections including ones from local councillor Janet Campbell and the village community council.