Appeal lodged over refusal of controversial A9 roadside services development at Balhaldie

Developer appeals to Scottish Government, pointing to an ‘electric highway’ along the A9 and transition to electric vehicles

From Stirling Observer

Developers behind a controversial roadside services development scheme, rejected by Stirling councillors last year, have lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government.

GB Grove Ltd’s plans – for a filling station, HGV truck stop, amenity building with rest area, toilet and shower facilities and two units for use as a cafe and/or restaurant on land 500 metres south west of Balhaldie – had been conditionally approved in August 2020.

But opponents lodged a legal challenge against the decision which Stirling Council chose not to contest.

The proposal was returned to the council to be considered afresh and, at a meeting in September, it was unanimously refused by the planning panel

Last month GB Grove lodged an appeal against the decision to refuse the application. An appeal statement submitted by agents Graham and Sibbald points out that the planning application had complied with applicable policy and there had been no objections from statutory consultees. It continues: ‘In addition, the development will deliver economic benefits and meets the requirement for additional truck stop facilities within the Tayside area. The proposal will also support the creation of an ‘electric highway’ along the A9 and transition to electric vehicles. ‘All of which are material considerations in support of the proposed development.

Objector Jo McDonald, of nearby Glassingall, had said previously that the application had “united our community” with concerns over road safety and the potential impact on local businesses who may miss out on trade. She cited cases of accidents at that section of the carriageway, including a fatality. “This is already the most dangerous stretch of the A9 between Stirling and Dunkeld,” she added. The impact on the Sheriffmuir battlesite was also a local concern, plus any jobs created would be minimum wage and would have to be accessed by car, said Ms McDonald.

Dunblane and Bridge of Allan councillor Alasdair Tollemache said this week: “This is an unwelcome development which the community oppose as does the community council.
“There is a big concern over road safety being a development adjacent to the A9. “I will be writing to the DPEA detailing my objections to this development. “This is yet another local example of the right of developers to appeal planning decisions which the local community does not have. There is an urgent need to change planning legislation and have a proper, fair, planning system.”

 For earlier articles about this proposed development  - search Balhaldie

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An appeal has been launched to carry out £400,000 of restoration work on Dunblane’s historic Leighton Library building

The Grade-A listed building at The Cross, erected in the late 17th century, contains around 4500 books – the oldest dating from 1504 – and includes masterpieces and first editions like The Edinburgh Edition of Robert Burns’ poems (1787), Dr Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755), Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man (1791), a signed copy of Queen Victoria’s Highland Journal, presented to the Library by Queen Victoria herself, and a first edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. There is also a collection of early maps, including a rare American Atlas from 1775.

Alastair MacDonald of the the Leighton Library Restoration Programme said: “We’re keen to raise the profile of this ‘hidden gem’ library for a number of very special reasons. Whilst the book collection is in very good condition, the building housing it, now some 333 years old, is in pressing need of restoration. “In particular cement-based harling applied some forty years ago is now considered detrimental to the fabric, as it effectively prevents the building from breathing and encourages damp in the walls. “This needs to be removed and a breathable lime-based harling applied. Additionally, several areas of stonework are eroded and need repair. The roof and chimneys need repair. The front of the building has a particularly fine marble cartouche from the late 1600s, which once bore the Bishop’s coat of arms. Specialist advice has been received that this too needs to be removed, the fixings replaced, and the whole thing restored by specialist conservators.”

Originally intended to house the collection of Bishop Robert Leighton, who bequeathed his library to Dunblane in 1684, the collection grew over the 18th and 19th centuries. Opening its doors in 1687, the Library was originally intended for the clergy of Dunblane Cathedral. It later became a subscription library and a reading room until the mid-19th century, when it was effectively closed up until restoration by volunteers in the late 1980s. It is now managed by a small charitable trust and opens to the public in the summer season.

Mr MacDonald added that the trustees have set up an executive group to address the conservation project. He said: “We have an architect on board who is qualified in the conservation of historic buildings.
“We now have a detailed schedule of required works, for which the current cost estimate is around £390,000. It’s a great deal of money to find. Even although the Trust has a small income from donations, and occasionally benefits from legacies, these reserves cannot even begin to meet the cost of the repairs. “We have made applications to various funding bodies for grants, including Historic Environment Scotland, but there still needs to be a considerable local fundraising effort, for up to at least £150,000 preserve this treasure for future generations. It is hoped, if funding can be secured, to start the repairs early in 2022.”

Following discussions with Stirling Council, and taking on board feedback from potential funders, the group is also looking at how to open up the Undercroft, situated on street level, with the Library on the first floor, both as a community and library asset. Mr MacDonald said: “We hope to work with neighbouring historic sites, such as the Museum and the Cathedral, both of whom get a great many more visitors than us, to promote the Library and the wonderful Cross area of Dunblane.”

Neighbouring hotel Old Churches House, part of tourism and hospitality specialists the Fusion Group of Companies has promised to help the Trust develop a viable plan for private tours for both individuals and tourist groups.
Alex McKie of the Fusion Group said: “We are happy to help in any way we can, perhaps giving a more commercial edge to proceedings by advising on how the Trust can best market the Library; how best to publicise the fund raising, and how to effectively price and promote tours.”

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The next meeting of Dunblane Community Council is to be held on Wednesday 1 December If you would like to attend the meeting via Zoom, please email DCC's Secretary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - he will then send you a link for the meeting.



A local Polish historian has put out a call for assistance in gathering information about the Polish soldiers that were stationed in Dunblane during the WW2, or who received military training in Dunblane in 1946-1948.

About a year ago, a local metal detectorist found 12 metal buttons decorated with the Polish Eagle on a south-facing slope overlooking the Dunblane Cathedral. The land (now near the Hydro) used to be connected with a military hospital and we know that Polish soldiers stationed in Dunblane during the WW2 or received military training soon after the War. The buttons will be donated to Dunblane Museum and we are gathering more information about the Polish soldiers to prepare an article and a lecture about the troops.

If you knew, or perhaps you are related to a Polish soldier that was stationed in the area, and you are willing to share your memories, information and/or memorabilia, please contact Dr Gabriela Ingle at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Protesters gathered outside the Dunblane Hydro hotel entrance on Monday 1st November. It is thought the Sri Lankan president was staying there in order to attend the COP26 conference in Glasgow.

Read more here.

Dunblane and District Garden Club

In common with many other organisations, Dunblane and District Garden Club was forced into dormancy when covid 19 lockdowns happened. Now the current organisers wish to step down feeling it is time for change. Are you someone who would like to play a part in nurturing the club back to growth?

if you are interested in gardening and keen to be at the grass roots of reinvigorating the garden club please contact Linda Bassett This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 07767676590

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