Plans by the University of Strathclyde to build a "world class leadership centre" at Ross Priory near Gartocharn have been met with a string of objections.

The university's proposals for its recreation and conference centre west of the village on the shores of Loch Lomond, have been drawn up in conjunction with the Hunter Foundation.

Due to be discussed by officials at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park in June, the plans have sparked concerns over the size and design of the proposed building in such an iconic location, its effect on wildlife, the likely increase in traffic and the possibility of flooding.

Among those opposed to the plans is West Dunbartonshire councillor Sally Page who has raised a number of concerns over the proposed centre's effect on wildlife.

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Cllr Page told the Reporter the application acknowledges the proximity of the National Nature Reserve, around a kilometre away, and claybeds on either side of the site which are listed as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

However, she added: "Any activity increase on the water in this corner of the loch puts pressure on summer wildfowl and young broods that depend upon the sheltered and undisturbed feeding waters to survive.

"The proposed leadership centre has plate glass windows of huge proportion and solar panels on the roof, all so close to the waters edge.

"These will scare the birds, who gather at this migratory crossing-point from the north down Loch Lomond, from the Forth estuary, before connecting with the Clyde."

In a letter to the National Park, another protester wrote: "Ross Priory, its grounds, location and history are so special, it seems sacrilege to us to encroach on its sanctity to accommodate leadership training that could be carried out in a better location."

Historic Scotland says it has no objections as the proposals do not raise historic environment issues of national significance.

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The university says the proposed centre would be located to the east of Lochside Cottage, in the Ross Priory grounds, and would, if planning permission is granted, be aimed at small groups of up to 25 people, but with capacity for occasional events of up to 100 people at a time.

It is proposed that the centre would be built and operated by the Hunter Foundation, but that the building itself would be gifted to the university.

It also says the design of the proposed centre “will fit with the University’s wider sustainability plans for Ross Priory, which includes a solar array”.

Built in 1695 and significantly redesigned in the early 19th century, the A-listed Priory was later owned by the Leith-Buchanan family, and was sold to the university in 1973.

Today the house, which is regularly used for meetings, conferences and entertainment by the university’s staff and graduates, as well as a has 10 en-suite bedrooms, a dining room and a conference and functions room, the Carnegie Room.

The building stands in 173 acres of grounds with sporting facilities for members, including a nine-hole golf course.


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