One of the north-east’s most popular attractions has been put under threat from a new housing development.
Proposals for 250 houses on land used by Ballater Highland Games have been blasted by organisers as jeopardising the future of the annual event.
Views are being sought on the latest Cairngorms National Park Authority’s local development plan (LDP) for 2020-2025 which was published last week.
But it shows that land owned by the Invercauld Estate, next to Ballater’s games ground on Monaltrie Park – which is currently used as the car park for the historic event – has been earmarked for a new housing development of up to 250 homes.
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In the proposed LDP, the boundary of the site has been indicated, with further clarification needed once the masterplan is drawn up. The report accepts that adequate car parking for the games would also need to be clarified.
However, the games committee held an emergency meeting this week to discuss the plans and what it means for the event.
Vice chairman Scott Fraser said: “We have to try and stop this or it could put the whole sustainability of the games in jeopardy.
“The field next to Monaltrie Park is not only used by us for car parking, but also for the Orienteering Championships.
“The Cairngorms plan does appear to give us more new open space, but the preferred access road for the housing would more than likely take up a huge chunk of that.
“We have been told the preferred route would come off Provost Craig Road, which would mean less traffic going into the village – and a live road going right through the middle of the games.
“It seems to be a big secret as to who the developers are – no-one is telling us anything.”
National Park convener, Xander McDade said he believed the proposed 2020-2025 LDP would “deliver” positive results.
He added: “It will deliver for housing, businesses and for recreation and enjoyment. I would encourage everyone to take a look at the plan and share your views with us.”
Factor for Invercauld Estate, Angus McNicol said: “We have been in close discussion with the Ballater Games committee over the past six months or so to seek a proposal that secures the long term future for the Ballater games whilst enabling must needed development land for Ballater.
“Invercauld Estate is a long term supporter of the Ballater Games and is determined to see it continue to be the success it is currently.
“We believe the draft Local Development Plan provides a solution to enable this whilst also seeking to provide for additional housing which the Ballater Community Action Plan recently identified as an essential requirement for the village.
“We look forward to working closely with the games committee in working up the details of how these two important objectives can be achieved.”
There will be drop-in consultation events taking place before the public opinion deadline of April 5.
The first takes place in Braemar village hall on Thursday, February 7 between 3pm and 7pm; Tomintoul Richmond hall on Monday, February 11; Eleven41 Gallery in Kingussie on February 12; The Hub in Aviemore on February 18; Ballater Station on February 19; Blair Atholl village hall on February 21 and at the CNPA office in Grantown-on-Spey on February 25.