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‘New homes will put our safety at risk’: Residents battle plans for Highland village

Diane Kinnear (foreground) of Rosemarkie with some of the other objectors to the proposed housing development off Courthill Road
Diane Kinnear (foreground) of Rosemarkie with some of the other objectors to the proposed housing development off Courthill Road

Highland Council has been accused of ignoring the concerns of residents in two north villages after approving the development of dozens of new homes.

Community leaders on the Black Isle launched a petition against further development at Rosemarkie claiming the current infrastructure and poor road layout would not sustain the surge in population.

However despite 300 signatures the local authority granted permission for 50 new houses.

Locals have since lodged complaints with Highland Council chief executive Steve Barron to highlight their concerns for public safety.

But last night campaigners said they could not afford to lodge a legal challenge against the ongoing development of the area.

Two residents in Courthill Road, a single-track road bordering the development, yesterday urged council chiefs to review the decision on safety grounds.

Retired primary school teacher Diane Kinnear, who has lived in the street for 37 years bought her council home there in the 1990s.

The 73-year-old said: “They’ve already built 150 or more houses in Fortrose.

“There are no places for additional pupils in the local schools for any newcomers. It’s horrendous, the whole thing.

“I’m concerned about the safety of everyone in the village because there have been accidents at this junction, opposite my home (on the A832) before. I have photographs of two of them.

“And the field they’re going to build on is a flood plain. It flooded two days before Christmas in 2014 and two days before Christmas in 2015.”

Mrs Kinnear said she thought there would be more than 100 extra car movements per day in Courthill Road after the construction. She also said she objects to the homes being built on prime agricultural land.

“The council have not listened,” she said.

The pensioner added she would challenge the planning decision in court if she could afford to.

The developer, Paterson Estates, won approval for the scheme at the end of February after scaling down an initial proposal for 150 homes.

The application prompted 75 letters of support while many residents argued that it would “impact on the already strained infrastructure of these special communities.”

Business consultant David Guthrie, 60, who has lived in Courthill Road for five years, said: “The community has been brushed aside. It seems quite clear that there was a determination from the outset that this (development) was going to happen.”

He also highlighted the wider issue of perceived overdevelopment in the area.

He said a council transport official stated in 2005 that Fortrose High Street was “inadequate for the level of development which already exists.”

The community council is currently awaiting a response from the council to its complaint.

But area planning committee chairwoman and local councillor Isobel McCallum has previously praised the housing scheme as “a high-quality development.”

She acknowledged there were “issues” around traffic, but said she was “satisfied” that surveys had shown the impact to be within acceptable limits.

The developer could not be contacted for comment.

A Highland Council spokesperson said: “The proposal went to committee last month and all the issues were considered and assessed at that time.

“The site had been allocated for some time. All related planning issues were considered and assessed at that time.”

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