An ambitious £250million vision for 800 homes in Inverness has been unveiled.
Tulloch Homes wants to build the homes at Ness-side on land opened up by the controversial £55million West Link road project, which is being built to take thousands of vehicles out of the city centre.
According to the masterplan, the homes – 200 of them affordable – will be built over the next 10 years to help tackle the housing shortfall in the city.
Plans will be lodged with Highland Council in April, and work could start on the first phase of 50 affordable homes by the middle of next year.
Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson praised developers last night for “getting on with the project” and stressed that community consultation will be paramount.
She said: “It’s been difficult to get developers to open up sites around Inverness in recent years so I am very pleased to see this.
“It’s about getting the whole act together and making sure the local infrastructure and facilities are where they need to be and are going up at the same time. We have had trouble with some big developers with plans straying over the years, or ending up with bigger density, with the likes of Westercraigs. The houses have to be built with more review and community consultation as it all goes along.”
Inverness MP Drew Hendry, who was council leader during much of the deliberations over the West Link proposals, said: “News of this plan is very welcome and the fact that 200 new affordable homes are included, with 50 in the first phase, will be very well received given the demand we have locally.
“I look forward to seeing the detailed plans and would expect both the developers, Tulloch and the Highland Council to work to make sure that the development matches future needs. They should both seek to ensure that local amenities, public and active travel and the need for the fastest broadband connectivity are among the key considerations in the detailed proposals.”
The land at Ness Side, close to the Tesco store at Holm, has been zoned for housing in Highland Council’s Inner Moray Firth Development plan.
The aim is to help address a shortfall of 11,600 new homes identified for Inverness in a recent national study commissioned by the Scottish Government, Supporting Scotland’s Growth – Effective Housing Land in Scotland’s Cities.
The new homes coincide with the West Link road, which will ultimately connect the Dores Roundabout to the A82 road at Torvean over the River Ness.
The scheme remains on schedule and it is hoped that motorists will be able to use the new road by 2020.
Tulloch Homes chief executive George Fraser said: “Our design teams have worked in close liaison with Highland Council planners for a couple of years to reach this point.
“With the road infrastructure in place, the first phase of 50 affordable homes will commence on receipt of planning permission helping the council achieve their aspirations in the affordable sector.”
Inverness Ness-side councillor Jean Slater said: “I think we have to be mindful with the number of houses going up has to be done in stages. It’s important that they come back at every stage and do things in consultation with the communities, to ensure that things do not go too fast so that the infrastructure is not there, as schools in the area are already fast coming to capacity.”
Inverness West councillor Graham Ross, who is chairman of the West Link community consultation group, said that representatives of the group feel that the West Link project is going to plan.
He added: “We are always desperate for new houses and it’s welcomed in that respect, but we certainly need the infrastructure in place to go with that.
“I would say the West Link will take away a good percentage of traffic from the city centre, but when you put the houses round about it, it becomes an inner road, and we need to look at better traffic management.”