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Fears for Inverness infrastructure as developers eye up land for 5,000 houses

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Developers are eyeing up sites in the Inverness area to build up to 5,000 houses.

The plans, if approved, would result in an expanse of city greenspace disappearing.

They were revealed in the ongoing review of the Inner Moray Firth local development plan (IMFLDP), in its ‘call for sites’ submissions page.

It shows developers proposing more than 2,000 homes at Druids Temple and Welltown of Inverness; 400 at Hazledene, Milton of Leys; 16 east of Milton of Leys; up to 280 west of Essich Road and Drumdevan; 1,300 at Ashton Farm; 90 at Easterfield Farm, and several other large sites also earmarked for mixed used with an as yet unspecified number of houses.

The level of potential developments have raised a red flag with local councillors who say the current infrastructure is already groaning under the strain.

Inverness South is targeted for around 2,500 homes.

Local councillor Andrew Jarvie said that level of building would require a substantial upgrade of the vital distributor road.

He added: “It feels like it’s at capacity now. Huge upgrades to the roads would be required to allow that kind of development, and that’s before you get into the fact that 2,500 would need three primaries and almost a new secondary school.

“It’s not just building homes, it’s building the communities.”

Mr Jarvie added that water and sewage were also a considerable worry.

He said: “At the extremities of Inverness the water supply is barely coping, I don’t know how many more houses you can build without having to do something quite substantial with the waste water treatment plant.

“If they are truly looking at this scale of development, all of these things have to be in place before, there can’t be these years of delays.

“You’re talking at two and a half years minimum to build a school, that’s three academic years where you’ve had children packed into gym halls with desks because the schools can’t cope, like we’re seeing in Inverness already.

“This level of development is going to be like the past ten years on steroids.”

Councillor Ken Gowans said his biggest concern was around Drumossie Brae.

He said: “There’s not road infrastructure there for the ninety houses currently in the plans, let alone the new housing zone suggested.

“It’s mental trying to get in and out of there, and there’s going to be no schools.

“But it’s all a long way off yet. The plan will go out for consultation and people will jump up and down about it.”

Highland Council began the process of reviewing the IMLDP in 2019, with the first stage known as ‘Call for Sites’, allowing interested parties to suggest sites for development and highlight priorities for particular places.

The outcome from this initial stage of consultation will be subject to a range of statutory assessments and will be presented as a ‘main issues report’ early next year.

Mr Jarvie said: “In the last call for sites, about a third of the sites which were suggested weren’t taken up, so it’s by no means final, and if any member of the public has a view on it they need to make it known now, otherwise these things do get passed.

“There is a presumption in favour of development which sets the bar so inexplicably high it’s hard for the council to overcome, and it does mean that bad developments are allowed to go ahead time after time.”

 

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