Heritage chiefs have objected to plans to build 88 houses and a new visitor centre in the shadows of The Pineapple, the celebrated 18th Century folly in Stirlingshire.
National Trust for Scotland which owns The Pineapple and the surrounding walled garden on the Dunmore Estate at Airth, has lodged its formal opposition to the proposal.
Denny-based George Russell Construction, which owns land at Mains Farm at Airth which backs onto the estate, wants to build a visitor centre to capitalise on the popularity of attraction as well as bring new housing to the area.
NTS said The Pineapple was one of Scotland’s most celebrated buildings with the ‘tranquility’ of the area now at risk from the proposals.
Phil Long, chief executive of National Trust for Scotland, said: "The Pineapple and its associated Walled Garden are A-listed, designating a built heritage asset of national and international importance.
"Together they form a tranquil visitor experience combining elements of nature and human invention. As we understand them,
the proposals would create a suburban approach to the site itself in the form of ribbon housing development, and close to the site, in close proximity to The Pineapple building itself, would insert a commercial building which has no aesthetic or functional relationship
to The Pineapple or Walled Garden.
"This would fundamentally alter the quality of place and the visitor experience, potentially diminishing the qualities that would attract visitors in the first place.”
The Pineapple was built in 1761 by the Earl of Dunmore as a summerhouse as a birthday present for his wife Charlotte.
He created his fruit-inspired folly when pineapples were among Scotland’s most exotic foods and served as a sign of status and friendship.
The Earl grew a wide variety of unusual fruits and vegetables and Dunmore, with pineapple pits, where high temperatures could be reached, allowing him to produce the coveted food despite the Scottish weather.
This is the second application from the building firm, which applied to build 22 houses and a visitor centre last year.
The planning conditions placed on the developers made the proposals unviable, with proposals withdrawn and the larger scheme now produced.
NTS said that “contrary to the impression given” in documents produced by developers, the Trust did not endorse the proposals.
Mr Long added: As we have seen all too often, inappropriately-scaled and sited developments have impaired or overwhelmed many important historic and natural landscapes and it’s our obligation to ensure that this does not happen to The Pineapple.”
George Russell, planning director of the firm said: “The Pineapple is a historic attraction in the area. A lot of people come to visit but there are no facilities there for them, nothing for a tea or a coffee or to tell them about The Pineapple. There is nothing to keep people there.
"We started looking at this about five years ago but the planning conditions placed on us made the development unviable. We went back to the drawing board and rather work against the conditions, we came back with a plan that covered everything that the council wanted from us.”