Shannochie Post Office demolition plans resubmitted

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Revised plans to demolish the old Shannochie Post Office and to construct a new four-bedroom house have been resubmitted to North Ayrshire Council planning department.

The new bid follows an earlier application submitted in March this year, which was subsequently withdrawn following objections – including one from the Arran Civic Trust – and an indication from the planning officer that the application would be recommended for refusal.

Applicant Mr M Sym, as named in planning documents, has now through an agent altered the plans, and while still seeking to demolish the old structure he wants to erect a new earth-sheltered house.

The proposal for a new, highly-insulated, earth-sheltered, single-storey house has been described as being primarily for the use of the applicant’s family members but it would also be made available on short term lets at other times.

In a 13-page design and access statement providing the motivation for the new application the architect addresses each concern raised in previous objections, including the historical relevance of the building.

The supporting statement states: ‘There may be a historic aspect to the fact that there was once a post office on the site, however, as the history laid out above shows, there is very little historic fabric left to the building and the majority of what was once a row of thatched cottages were rebuilt in the 1980s.

‘The building is not listed, is not mentioned in either The Buildings of Scotland, Ayrshire and Arran (Close & Riches, 2012) or Ayrshire and Arran; An illustrated architectural guide (Close, 1992) and gets just a passing mention in Buildings of Arran (Arran Civic Trust, 2010) which states: ”Beside the road is a private house, converted from what was at one time the last thatched post office in Scotland”.

‘Given all of the above, we believe that the existing building is not one of such merit that it should be preserved.

‘That said, it is proposed to retain the post box, which will continue the memory of the post office and the ability to send letters, subject to Post Office approval of course.’

The subject of the post box is particularly relevant as it holds historic significance, bearing the Royal cypher of Kind Edward VIII, who reigned for less than a year in 1936, and is most likely the only one remaining on Arran.

The application, and the previous one, described the building as being in a poor structural state with access issues and an internal layout that is not conducive to modern living.

Describing the limitations of the structure as not being suitable for further expansion either to the side or to the rear, the design statement adds; ‘Due to the restrictions to head heights, the need to provide a safe stair, the need to adequately insulate and waterproof the existing structure, it would require complete replacement or almost total rebuilding to bring it to an appropriate modern standard, something which is not a practical or economically viable proposition.’

The application is currently being considered by planners and the application is open for scrutiny and public comments on the council  Online Planning Information System (OPIS).

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James and Mary Hamilton pictured outside Shannochie Post Office in its heyday.