An Inverness councillor is shocked that a massive new £250 million housing development proposed for 35 acres at Ness-side could include blocks of flats four storeys high.
Ken Gowans said that to make matters worse, the flats in the near-800 home plan are earmarked to be built next to the new West Link road that opens on Monday.
Cllr Gowans said: "One of the most controversial things about this application is that Tulloch is looking for four-storey flats as well as three-storey.
"It will mean that people coming into Inverness from the rural setting of Loch Ness will cross the new bridge and be confronted with four-storey flats along the roadside.
"With all due respect, do we want to become like East Kilbride? I think that to have flats so high at an important gateway to the city and at the edge of the proposed estate, is highly controversial and undesirable."
He is also very concerned that such a huge planning application is being considered along with more than a dozen other important applications at Highland Council’s south planning applications committee on Tuesday. It is recommended for approval.
"This is a massive application with more than 300 pages of drawings and I wonder how my colleagues on the committee are going to take it all in," he said.
"This application should merit a special meeting."
However, it appears that the use of flats was deliberately factored into the design.
In her appraisal report, council area planning officer Nicola Drummond said: "At key points the aspiration was to have signature buildings and associated with that was the idea that at key points in the development and along key routes, height would be introduced to create focal points and a sense of enclosure with frontages to the main roads through the development.
"The applicant has followed this approach with the use of flats and town houses alongside the West Link and increased the height. In the remainder of the development the houses are predominantly two storeys."
A spokesman for Tulloch Homes said: "Ness Side is a vital asset towards meeting Inverness’s designated future housing needs. The development would be rolled out over 15 to 20 years and, given a fair wind in relation to our application, we hope to begin infrastructure works in the first half of 2018.
"We have liaised closely with Highland Council officials over a number of years to reach this point and, of course, the location has been zoned for housing for some 40 years. The first homes will be ready by the second half of 2018 and the ongoing construction schedule will sustain up to 100 jobs on a long-term basis.
"The council’s Torvean and Ness Side Development Brief document clearly encourages taller buildings at key focal points and our architect has designed accordingly, again in consultation with the council department."
Tulloch Homes wants to build 767 new houses and flats west of Tesco Ness-side, between Dores Road and the River Ness. A former timber mill and pre-cast concrete plant will also comprise part of the site.
There were three representations against the plan, some including concern about the scale of the flats, and two neutral representations.
Lochardil and Drummond Community Council is calling for traffic calming in Dores Road and improved cycle and pedestrian layouts in view of the increased traffic likely to be generated.
There are three parts to the development – a mixture of 450 houses and flats on a site west of Tesco Ness-side, between Dores Road and the River Ness, one for 216 houses and flats on land north-west of Dores Road and another for 105 homes and flats on land south-west of Holm Mills.
A care home, community space and mixed-use development are also proposed, while a new school could eventually be built too. A church will also form part of the scheme and Inverness St Columba New Charge has submitted a planning application for the site.
Through legal agreement, developer contributions will be secured toward the West Link road, Ness Castle Primary School, the enhancement of Inverness Royal Academy, subsidised public transport, the enhancement of sporting provision in the area, and delivery of affordable housing.
The developer will be required, via planning conditions, to deliver direct provision of a playing field, open spaces within the site, path network, four controlled road crossings, eight bus stops, and public art.