Fears have been raised that two large derelict sites in Moray’s biggest town could lie empty for at least another four years after the latest plans to revitalise them were rejected.
Aberdeen and Northern Estates had wanted to transform its former mart in New Elgin into a housing estate with a restaurant and more than 100 homes.
However, Moray Council refused planning permission in principle,m arguing that insufficient information had been provided about tackling flood concerns in the area.
They also confirmed that funding will not be available to ease concerns about this issue until 2022 at the earliest.
Homes on Linkwood Road and New Elgin Road, which both border the site, were seriously damaged by a deluge that resulted in 60 days of rain falling in just 24 hours in 2002.
And the region has fallen victim to severe weather on a regular basis.
The proposals for 101 homes is the latest initiative to be suggested for the former mart that has come to nought – following a retail park vision in 2005 and a Sainsbury’s supermarket plan.
During yesterday’s planning committee meeting, Heldon and Laich councillor John Cowe stressed action was needed to make the mart capable of being developed to the standards of the former sawmill on the opposite side of the road.
He said: “These are prime sites in Moray and now we’ve got a question mark over when something can be done with them. They can’t be left like that.
“This wasn’t turning down houses for houses sake. We want to see sites used.”
Last night, Elgin City South councillor John Divers explained he backed the principal of a housing development on the land, but opposed it due to the lack of information.
He added: “That area of land hasn’t been known as Springfield for nothing, all you need to do is walk across it after it’s been raining to see the problems.
“It would be better to see the land get used, there’s no doubt about that, but if the developers don’t come forward with the adequate information then they’ve only got themselves to blame – it’s as simple as that.”
Council officer Debbie Halliday explained that schemes to tackle surface water flooding near the mart were currently being drawn up.
However, it will be 2022 before the proposals are finished and it is known whether external funding will be available.
A total of 25 objections from locals were received about the proposals from Aberdeen and Northern Estates.
The developer had proposed raising the land on the site to ease flooding fears.
However, Sepa objected to this development due to concerns it would increase the flood risk for neighbouring properties.