Fresh calls were made last night for a ban on all new house-building in southern Inverness amid a row over plans for “Soviet-style” flats.
Local residents and councillors demanded a moratorium as they raised concerns about the lack of basic facilities and school capacity.
The population of the rapidly-expanding south of Inverness has more than doubled in the last decade, but many claim that the infrastructure is struggling to cope.
The last straw for some was the submission this week of a major planning application for an unidentified number of homes in the expanding Milton of Leys suburb.
Tulloch Homes wants to build what it describes as a “neighbourhood centre” on a five-acre site east of the primary school, comprising houses, flats, retail and commercial units, a nursery and a care home.
But many residents reacted angrily to plans for four-storey blocks of flats, some of which would border the nursery and school.
Inverness South Community Council has appealed for more time to consider the plans because of the timing of Tulloch’s submission to Highland Council – the day after its latest meeting, earlier this week.
Its secretary Bob Roberts said: “Speaking personally, three and four-storey flats overlooking a nursery and a carehome – it’s absolutely not on.
“There should be a moratorium on all house-building within the catchment area of Milton of Leys and Inshes schools until the promised infrastructure is brought up to standard and the capping of those school rolls is sorted out.
“Milton of Leys school is still using the library as a classroom, which is totally educationally unsound.
“Anything more than two storey flats is out of keeping with anything in the area. They would be an eyesore.”
Local SNP councillor Ken Gowans feared that the flats would leave the area “looking like something from the former Soviet bloc”.
He said: “Several huge blocks of four-storey flats are proposed for land originally designated for community use, before Tullochs applied for a change to build ‘houses for heroes’ and, if that fell, it would revert back to community use.
“Well, it’s not fallen and it’s not reverted back to community use. They now want to build flats on it.”
Tulloch yesterday declined to answer questions about its proposal to build eight charitable “Houses for Heroes” – for injured servicemen and women – which was granted planning permission in 2011 after an appeal to the Scottish Government.
A company spokesman insisted that it had liaised closely with the council’s planning service for several months in preparing the latest application and that it was “content to allow it to be considered in the normal democratic process”.
He added: “We employ directly, and through sub contractors, hundreds of people and our company is in its 90th year of contribution to the local economy.”
Local Liberal Democrat councillor Carolyn Caddick said no further homes should be approved “without a definite plan to construct a new school.”
But her colleague Thomas Prag said a moratorium would be “unenforceable.”
George Moodie, who lives in nearby Redwood Avenue, agreed with the call for a halt to local house building.
He said: “There’s been a promise of additional infrastructure, shops, various amenity areas which have never transpired.
“It’s only in the last few years that we’ve got shops in Milton of Leys.
“Neither local amenity nor the school has kept pace with the volume of housing, hence why the school is capped having been extended twice.”
He doubted that people would object to a nursing home, nursery or retail units but he opposes the scale of four-storey flats which he said would be “completely out of character”.
A spokeswoman for Highland Council said: “Each planning application will be assessed on its merits, in the context of the approved development plan for the area.”