An angry row has erupted over the proposed site for a new £3.5million care home on the Black Isle.
Community leaders say new facilities are needed but not at the chosen location – on the border between the villages of Fortrose and Rosemarkie.
They argue that it is prime agricultural land and would breach local planning policy.
Care home provider the Parklands Group has submitted plans to Highland Council for a 40-bed, development along with proposals to extend two existing care homes in Muir of Ord and Tain.
The Ness Road, Fortrose facility would have en-suite bedrooms, a day room, dining room, coffee shop, hairdressing salon and a landscaped garden with views of the Moray Firth. If approved, it could be operational by the end of next year.
In addition to residential care, it would provide respite and convalescence care.
Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council is adamant that a different site is chosen.
Its chairwoman Libby Brown said: “We’re against breaching the gap between the two villages. If it’s built there it would be on land that we and the council have felt should be protected from development.
“It is prime agricultural land and goes against the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan.
“The Black Isle needs a care home but if they build in that area it would cause a problem, opening the door for other developers to come in.”
A spokeswoman for the council conceded that the site is not allocated for development in the newly adopted plan.
“However,” she said, “it will require to be assessed and determined by the council against all relevant development plan policies and other material considerations. The applicants appear aware of this.
“All third party representations and consultee responses will be fully considered in reaching a decision on the application.”
Parklands managing director Ron Taylor said: “We appreciate there may be some concern around the chosen site. We have considered a number of alternatives but none are suitable for this type of facility.”
He added: “We look forward to engaging with the local community to help bring this ambitious proposal forward.”
Parklands propose to expand their Muir of Ord and Tain homes by adding six rooms at each facility. A public exhibition detailing the investment plans will be held in the coming weeks.