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Green light for new ESRA boatshed

By Caroline McMorran

East Sutherland Rescue Association (ESRA) has been granted planning consent for a new boatshed and car park despite concerns voiced by two community groups over its size and location.

ESRA's existing boatshed is no longer fit for purpose. It has no electricity or running water.
ESRA's existing boatshed is no longer fit for purpose. It has no electricity or running water.

Planners gave the green light to the inshore rescue service under delegated powers. There were 65 representations in support of the development and two against.

The two-storey, 236 square metre building will be built on Common Good land already leased by ESRA to the south east of its existing boatshed and overlooking Dornoch beach.

Dornoch Community Council felt the new build would be visually intrusive, detracting from the award-winning beach. It queried the need for such a large building, suggesting it should be reduced to one storey and its floor space by at least a third.

Dornoch Area Community Interest Company (DACIC) had similar concerns and felt the building would be better located between the existing shed and the beach playpark. But both groups underscored their support of ESRA's life-saving service.

Responding to the criticism, ESRA said that any building "would have visual impact" as indeed did the existing shed. The new build would be in a two tone colour sympathetic to the environment.

The group said comparisons could not be drawn between the planned new building and the facilities operated by RNLI Lochinver, RNLI Loch Ness and Dornoch Fire Station.

In areport, planning officer Emma Thomson stated thatESRA had clearly undertaken extensive research including carrying out a community consultation before making an application.

She wrote: "Whilst the building is large in scale, situated in a prominent location along the beach front and larger than the existing boatshed, it is a necessary building to continue to serve the community and allow the association to developand expand the service they currently provide.

"The need for a building of this height has clearly been justified by ESRA.... The building proposed meets the operation requirements and it is considered it is in keeping with the development plan."

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