Published: 20/05/2018 07:00 - Updated: 18/05/2018 10:58

Families voice fears over loss of play area

Written byVal Sweeney


John Geddes
Hilton resident John Geddes says new houses will lead to the loss of valuable play areas.

WORRIED residents in an Inverness neighbourhood fear a new 14-home development will lead to the loss of play areas and a skate park as well as open spaces.

The scheme, comprising 10 houses and four flats at a site in Balloan Road, Hilton, has been approved by Highland Council planning officials.

But residents are worried it will reduce facilities for local youngsters and the council’s access officer has also raised concerns about the impact on a core path and loss of open spaces.

The construction of a 26-home development at the site three years ago prompted similar concerns about the threat to children’s play areas.

Although planning officers have given permission for this second phase, they have attached seven conditions including the relocation of the existing play park before the new houses are occupied.

Objectors to the development, which is being built by the Highland Housing Alliance, include local resident John Geddes.

He is concerned the relocated play equipment will be very close to people’s homes.

"It is a disgrace that the kids in Hilton are being ignored again," said Mr Geddes, of Morvich Way.

"The taking of their skate park is a disgrace. The siting of a smaller park right next to people’s houses is a disgrace too.

"It’s getting ridiculous. The kids’ play area is getting smaller and smaller.

"When I first moved here you could see for miles around."

Other objectors have raised concerns about potential parking problems due to a new parking layout.

One resident feared it would potentially block access to his driveway and also restrict access for emergency and large service vehicles.

Another claimed it would  lead to increased congestion and vandalism.

Inverness Ness-side councillor Alasdair Christie said, however, there were severe problems with the provision of affordable housing in Inverness.

"The scheme that was put forward remodels the car park area and also re-provides the play area and upgrades the play area to a degree," he said.

Planning officer John Kelly stated in his appraisal of the application that most of the site was in an area zoned for affordable housing and the only additional requirement was to improve local recreational facilities to offset the area of lost open space.

He said the 2015 development had led to the replacement of a poor quality playing field with a good quality seven-a-side pitch.

He acknowledged that in the second phase the small skate park would be lost and the equipped play area relocated to a smaller existing green space.

"This proposal will, of course, lead to a quantitative loss of open space," he stated.

"However, given that the existing play area will be relocated with no reduction in the level of equipment and that the amenity of the resultant play area will be improved, it is considered that the wider public benefits of providing further affording housing units outweigh this loss."

Gail Matheson, chief executive of the Highland Housing Alliance, said work would start in late summer and finish next spring.

Four one-bedroom flats and four three-bedroom bungalows will be built on behalf of the council and be available at an affordable rent.

A further six, three-bedroom semi-detached houses will be available at a mid-market rent through the alliance.

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