Construction on a controversial housing development in a Moray village has started, with the builders claiming the plans will ease drainage fears in the community.
Springfield Properties’ proposals to build 22 homes in the south of Hopeman were unanimously rejected by the council’s planning committee after it received more than 250 objections from local residents.
However, the development is now being transformed into council homes after the decision to block them was overturned by the Scottish Government due to the “urgent” need for affordable housing in the area.
And now, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart has visited the site off Forsyth Street in order to witness the beginning of work on the project.
He said: “This development will offer quality affordable homes for families in Hopeman and enhance the strong community that exists here.
“Affordable housing is a priority for the Scottish Government, which is why we’re investing £3billion to support our target to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.
“Everyone deserves a warm, safe, affordable place to live and these new homes will help us achieve that ambition.”
Moray Council’s housing department made the decision to take on the properties despite the rejection from its planning committee in a bid to reduce its backlog of more than 3,000 people on the waiting list for a home.
Campaigners in Hopeman feared the 22 properties, which will be a mix of one-bedroom flats, two-bedroom bungalows and three-bedroom homes, could have opened the floodgates for more construction.
However, locals welcomed the council taking on the development as the best possible outcome and hope it will allow them greater influence over its future.
The completed homes are expected to be handed over to the authority in spring next year.
Tom Leggeat, Springfield’s managing director of affordable housing, said: “There is a shortage of affordable homes in Moray with around 3,000 people on the waiting list.
“These homes will give 22 families who want to stay in Hopeman the opportunity to do so. As part of this development, we will also be improving a section of the drainage in the village which has caused issues for existing residents for some time.”