A major development of 1,200 homes, shops and a new primary school could be in the pipeline for the south of Inverness.
Tulloch Homes has submitted a proposal of application notice for a site at Druid Temple Farm and Welltown of Leys.
The site is next to Milton of Leys, a large housing development which has grown exponentially over the past 15 years.
Tulloch Homes managing director Sandy Grant is asking for families looking for homes to get in touch, so they can help shape the plans.
He said: “The development has the potential for around 1,200 energy efficient homes.
“It will provide significant contributions to local infrastructure and amenities.
“The proposals include ample green space and an area of land has been identified for a new school.
“And, as the plans progress, we hope to include business opportunities for local shops and cafes.”
Is the housing needed?
Large housing developments have proved contentious in Inverness in recent years.
Residents have repeatedly raised concerns about a lack of accompanying infrastructure.
This one is likely to encounter some challenges as it was marked as a non-preferred site in the latest draft of the local development plan.
Highland Council planner Craig Baxter said in November 2020 that this site was one of two that would represent a major expansion that “would move away from the established strategy for growing the city”.
Mr Baxter said: “The slopes involved make it very difficult for active travel and a challenge to get an effective public transport system in place.
“There are also a range of issues to do with character and setting of the city. It could be adversely impacted if we were to allow large-scale development in these sites.”
What do people in Inverness think?
There is also another potential development for 400 homes at Milton of Leys South, less than a mile away, in the pipeline.
Hazledene, Park Lane and the Highland Housing Alliance are behind those plans.
Inshes and Milton of Leys Community Council has concerns about that proposal.
And a lot of those will also apply to the Welltown development.
A buoyant property market in the Highland capital suggests that there is a lot of demand.
However, the community council’s David Finlayson believes developers may be overestimating it.
He said: “I hear anecdotally that other developments in the area are attracting incomers and thus not solving the Highland housing problem.
“School rolls in the area are already full. While this proposal suggests a new primary school, it would not be built until the development is almost complete.”
The community council also has concerns about traffic, flooding and active travel, among others.
Inverness South councillor Ken Gowans said decisions taken in the local development plan would make this proposal a challenge for Tulloch Homes.
He said: “One of the most fundamental issues here is that the pace of development in Inverness has hugely outstripped local infrastructure in recent years.
“This does not just apply to schools. It’s roads, it’s shops, it’s GP surgeries.
“If this goes ahead, it’s an enormous development. There’s no indication so far of any improvements to the general infrastructure.”
What happens next?
Details are fairly scarce at the moment, but more information about this development is due later this month.
Tulloch’s project team will hold an online consultation between 4pm and 7pm on April 20.
A website with more information will also go live next week.
As veterans of the Highland housebuilding scene, Tulloch will be well aware of the challenges in store.
A consultation for a new draft of the development plan is currently running.
Could this land end up being viewed differently because of the growing demand for houses in Inverness?
That is what Tulloch Homes will be pinning its hopes on.
Mr Grant said: “Inverness is one of Scotland’s fastest growing cities. The site at Druid Temple and Welltown would help meet the increasing housing demand in the area.
“We actively encourage the local community to join us for the virtual event where they will have the opportunity to view and inform our plans.”