Two Highland councillors want to see developers of small numbers of large homes pay fairer contributions towards education in the area.
Andrew Jarvie, Inverness South and Lochaber councillor Andrew Baxter say developer contributions from groups of one to three houses are currently discounted up to 80% of what would have to be paid for similar homes in a larger development.
They say the council is missing out on significant education revenue as a result.
Mr Jarvie said: “We know that five-bed houses bring families. There could be up to a dozen children coming from a three-house development.”
He explained that a three-house development, as an example, might pay about £7,500, with about £5,000 of that going to education.
It means that three houses could be paying less than one in a bigger development.
Seconded by Mr Baxter, Mr Jarvie is putting in a motion at full council next Thursday which he hopes will make the situation ‘fairer, proportionate and reasonable.”
He said: “Policy is being followed, but it’s flawed.
“We are asking council to agree to ask the planning and development service to revise this policy, hold a members’ seminar and take a report forward to the environment, development and infrastructure committee, ending the practice of large discounts for these kind of developments whilst still including a reasonable and proportionate discount for the smaller scale developments, in order to capture the appropriate funds.”
Mr Baxter said: “I’ve listened to councillor Jarvie pointing out this strange loophole on south planning applications committee and told him if he was to bring forward a motion to council I would be prepared to back him.
“We could be in the position where a housing association comes along and builds 20 low cost houses and has to stump up the money to put towards our schools and then a private developer comes along building five extremely expensive houses and under the current rules they would currently pay a lot less than everyone else.
“It needs tidying up.”
Highland Council says under current guidance small scale residential developments, including self-build plots, of one, two or three homes receive a discount of up to 80% for schools or transport to reflect economies of scale and the need to maintain development viability.
Councillor Allan Henderson, chairman of the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee said there was no reason not to have a good look at the issue.
He said: “It’s a fair point and something that will be given due consideration by the council.”