As the date for the review of my refused planning application for a pizzeria at Parkgate approaches (15th March), I find myself trying to make sense of the policies that have conspired to create this situation.
In my mind it seemed what I was asking permission to do was a relatively simple thing, born of a rather sociable idea. To build an authentic
Italian pizzeria where people could enjoy traditional food in a warm family atmosphere. People think they know Italian food but few have sampled the genuine experience and celebration.
Little did I realise that the plans I made, sat around the kitchen table with my family, would flounder on an inexplicable, one-sided and biased series of policies.
Maybe it is a collective guilt of a local authority and government that has based an economic strategy primarily and almost entirely on carbon producing and polluting industries.
No-one in the local authority batted an eyelid about the effects of constructing or operating the new gas plant at Sullom Voe, yet building a six-table restaurant midway between Brae and Voe is an environmental issue.
It seems as if our council has become very generic, controlled by a government and bureaucrats only able to conceive of policies that have less and less relevance the further north one travels from the central belt of Scotland.
One cannot help but feel the policies that have led to this situation belong somewhere else and have very little to do with the people and place that they purport to serve.
All I can really hope is that the committee that will ultimately decide the fate of my application has the ability and courage to listen to the people they represent.
It seems that we live in a world where people tend to only ever pass comment when they have something negative to say, so I am genuinely touched and grateful to the 57 people who took the time and trouble to write to the planning department in support of the application, the 2,500 people who have made positive comments on social media and the 600+ signatories of an online petition.
I really do thank all the people who have been supportive and encouraging. Here is hoping for a positive outcome.
Henry Francesco MacColl