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‘We really need the infrastructure’: Where are the schools and roads to service Moray’s thousands of new homes?

Labour councillor for Elgin North Sandy Keith
Labour councillor for Elgin North Sandy Keith wants infrastructure to be in place before large housing developments are completed.

Schools, dentists and health centres should be in place before large Moray housing developments are completed.

That is the call from Labour councillor for Elgin North Sandy Keith.

Recently, issues have been stacking up.

At the moment there are no dentists in Moray accepting NHS patients. Dentists were de-registering patients at one practice.

And a lack of maternity provision at Dr Gray’s Hospital means many Moray mums have to take a 120-mile round trip to give birth in Aberdeen.

While there have been promises to reinstate a consultant-led maternity service at Dr Gray’s, which was downgraded in 2018, that is not expected to happen for almost a decade.

Elgin has also seen a housing boom in recent years.

Moray housing: 4,000 homes for Elgin

Findrassie off Lossiemouth Road to the north of the town will see 1,500 homes built, while the Elgin South Master Plan includes 2,500 houses.

Both developments include schools and community facilities and are expected to be completed in the next 20 to 25 years.

Linkwood Primary School, included in plans for the south of the town, was supposed to be open to pupils in August 2018.

But that was delayed until January last year.

In the interim, primary one children zoned for the school were taught in East End Primary close to the town centre.

Mr Keith said: “Planning applications come forward for houses that are allocated in the local plan.

Moray housing
Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.

“The problem is they seem to get built quicker than the ability to make sure all the services are there.

“If there’s going to be all these houses, we really need to get these facilities in place prior to clogging up the roads and filling up the schools.

“Most of the houses being built are family homes, so it doesn’t take a lot of thought to recognise there’s a need for a maternity service.

“We really need the infrastructure in place.”

Mr Keith was elected to the council in May. He previously served from 1996 to 2007 as member for Bishopmill then Bishopmill East.

As well as improvements to health services, he wants to see plans come forward for an Elgin by-pass.

‘I’m wondering if we’re getting it right’

Mr Keith accepts there is a need for more Moray housing. He also knows that the infrastructure issues are not necessarily caused by Moray Council.

Mr Keith feels the Scottish Government needs to take action. He has pledged to lobby MSPs on the topic of Moray housing.

Mr Keith said: “When I was in the council before we had a problem with dentists. Nothing seems to have changed in the last 15 years.

“The roads in Elgin are much more congested than they used to be.

“New Elgin has expanded to the south and in the north there’s more housing and development in the coming years.

“I’m just wondering if we’re getting it right.”

Moray housing
Planning permission for 49 council houses at the Spynie Hospital site in Elgin was approved last week.

Last week the planning and regulatory services committee, which Mr Keith is a member of, approved 39 houses and 10 flats at the Spynie Hospital site off Duffus Road that will be council homes.

Agreement was also given for 48 private and 22 affordable houses at Lesmurdie Fields for Robertson Homes.

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