A new town taking shape in the Highlands will have its own supermarket, high street shops and village green, according to the man behind the concept.
The Earl of Moray has revealed that the first residents of Tornagrain, on the outskirts of Inverness, will move in by the end of next month.
John Moray insisted his aim was to “create as much employment as possible” and is determined it will be much more than just a commuter town.
He also confirmed that the initial dwellers will move into their new homes at the end of next month and the start of March.
It was also revealed that, when the town’s high street is built within the next 15 years, it will boast a supermarket and mix of specialist, locally-owned shops, boutiques and cafes.
Lord Moray added that a “red line” has been drawn around a total population of 10,000 people for Tornagrain, which is located about six miles east of Inverness, opposite the airport across the A96 Inverness-Aberdeen road.
He stated: “Community is the number one thing for Tornagrain. Fourteen years ago, when we started thinking about the project, that took precedence over anything else.
“The whole ethos is designed around community in terms of the layout of houses and architecture. I think the aim is to reflect the best of Scottish communities as they are.
“About 30% of people in Scotland live in communities of 10,000 people or less and they are often high quality places to live, and that’s what we are aiming for. Cromarty has always been a place we have talked about for inspiration, as well as Nairn and Forres.
“We are seeing Tornagrain as part of the next chapter of new towns in Scotland.”
Work started on the 568-acre Tornagrain development in August 2015 and the first homes in the first street, Hillhead Road, are nearly complete.
A total of 25 homes have already been reserved for sale between developers ZeroC and A&J Stephen.
Lord Moray confirmed his long-term plan was for Tornagrain to be finished in between 40 and 50 years’ time through a process of building 100 homes every year.
A quarter of the 5,000 homes will be classed as affordable and these will be interspersed throughout the new community.
Tornagrain will have a secondary school and leisure facility, four separate neighbourhood centres with nearby commercial units, four primary schools and police, fire and ambulance stations and a health centre.
The project will also serve Inverness Airport and the recently-created Castle Stuart Golf Links, which are both due for expansion as part of wider work to cater for developments along the A96 corridor in the next 50 years.
When asked about the types of shops and services and employment opportunities the town could create, Lord Moray said: “We are already talking to several businesses who have expressed an interest and our focus will be on locally-owned businesses.
“We appreciate we need to have a supermarket, but it won’t be on the edge of town. It is very important to get it right by the high street and that will create footfall for a lot of specialist family businesses.
“We have also been talking to junior nurseries, a pharmacy and food retailers. And we certainly anticipate a lot of scope for work units for people to live and work in the town.
“It’s not just for people moving there to commute to work. We want as much employment as possible. There will be scope for specialist clothes boutiques and home furnishers, specialist food retailers and also work in the service sector, with PR companies and internet-based companies.
“The High Street would be the focus of commercial activity within the town, but there will be four neighbourhood centres around that. The basic philosophy is for people to have no more than a five minute walk from a basic service.”