The first wave of housing for the Findrassie development in Elgin has been approved amid hopes it will support the expansion of RAF Lossiemouth.
The vision for the north of the town has been in the making for more than five years after a masterplan was approved in December 2015.
Now construction is finally poised to begin after Moray Council’s planning committee granted planning permission for 113 houses to Barratt Homes.
How big will Findrassie become?
Eventually up to 1,500 homes, a new primary school and commercial land for shops and businesses is expected to be built on the large site over the next 20 years.
The first wave of houses will be built to the immediate north of the town on the western side of the A941 Lossiemouth road.
Moray Council’s planning committee unanimously backed the Findrassie development in the hopes it will provide valuable housing in Elgin to cater for the growing military population at RAF Lossiemouth.
Elgin City North councillor Frank Brown said: “This development is needed. It’s going to be helpful in terms of providing good quality housing on the right side of Elgin for RAF Lossiemouth.
“The UK Government is making a huge investment in the base and this housing and the future phases of it are going to be valuable in supporting it.
“It’s been a fairly lengthy wait to get here but we are here at long last.”
Heldon and Laich councillor John Cowe said: “This has been a long time coming since December 2015 and during that time there has been a massive increase in what’s going on at RAF Lossiemouth.
“This development to the north of Elgin will support that and perhaps the aviation academy in the future.”
What is happening at RAF Lossiemouth?
Military bosses expected the arrival of the new P-8 Poseidon fleet at RAF Lossiemouth to increase the local population by about 4,000, once the spouses and children of forces families are included.
Since then, the Ministry of Defence has announced the UK’s new Wedgetail fleet will also be based at the Moray base.
And an aviation academy to be run by Moray College UHI is also to be built in Lossiemouth as part of the Moray Growth Deal to provide training for aerospace jobs.
What will Findrassie development mean for schools?
Speyside Glenlivet councillor Derek Ross asked for assurances primary and secondary schools in the area are ready to cope.
Moray Council has already begun preparations to build a new primary school as part of the Findrassie development.
Mr Ross said: “I hope we don’t see a situation like we did at Linkwood Primary School where pupils had to be decanted to another school while it was still being built. I hope we don’t have that situation again.”
Jim Grant, Moray Council’s head of environmental services, explained planning officers kept the education department informed about housing developments so expansions or changes in catchment zones could be prepared.
David Palmer, managing director of Barratt North Scotland said: “The approval presents an exciting opportunity to start building new homes, and importantly a new neighbourhood to the north of the town, representing one of the largest developments in Moray.
“We look forward to returning to Elgin following the success of our previous development, The Grange, which provided hugely popular with local buyers, and will ensure Elgin becomes a key area of investment and employment for our business for years to come.”
Moray Council’s planning committee unanimously backed the plans. The application received two representations, one supporting the development and one objecting to it.