Residents of a Ross-shire village are mobilising to stop council plans to build houses on part of their only green space.
The Maryburgh community is so incensed by the threat to their amenity that they have lodged 114 objections against Highland Council’s plans to build 16 homes on the site of the former Maryburgh primary school in Hood Road, at the heart of the village.
Highland Council says the green space occupied by the new development is not lost to the community and is in direct exchange for land agreed with them for their proposals to create a community facility.
Jenny Maclennan is spearheading the campaign and says the community has had “promises” from the council but nothing in writing.
The current plans are tweaked from plans withdrawn last year for four houses and eight flats in the school grounds, and now include a third block of flats, increasing the site area and moving it further into the flat green land valued by the community.
Mrs Maclennan says council officers promised to transfer the land to them at nominal cost but Highland Council says it doesn’t know who made this commitment and can’t comment.
Mrs Maclennan says the ‘kickabout’ area offered to them by the council is not acceptable.
She said: “We want a proper green space and Multiple Use Game Area (Muga) for the sports activities we have planned.
“The council have gone back on their word every time and made promises they are not empowered to make.”
The council says the development pushes around 36ft into the green space area, amounting to some 6% of the available ground.
A spokeswoman said: “We have enabled a significantly larger site for the community’s proposed redevelopment of the former school, which can only enhance community activity.
“We are improving the playing field by levelling and improving its drainage.”
Residents remain unimpressed, describing the loss of green space as ‘yet another disaster for the community’ in their comments on the planning application.
One resident wrote: “It is where the annual gala is held and the only safe place to play.”
Mrs Maclennan said: “The houses don’t fit in with the surrounding area, and given there are other plans for more than 300 houses in the village, why put houses there?
“This community will do everything it can to stop this, if it means putting an electric fence up, parking vehicles on the ground and lining people up.”
There were 341 applications for council houses in Maryburgh, the council says, but only 57 council houses.
The spokeswoman said: “All the proposed units will be for affordable rent, with five for wheelchair users, two for varying needs and the remaining units family-sized.”