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165 new homes for Inverness as developers given green light by Highland Council despite school crowding concerns

By Alasdair Fraser

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Inshes housing bid by David Cameron's Upland Developments is approved.
Inshes housing bid by David Cameron's Upland Developments is approved.

Highland councillors have approved plans for 165 new homes on the south side of Inverness despite concerns over school crowding.

Upland Developments has been granted permission in principle to build the houses on land between Inshes and Milton of Leys.

Inshes and Milton of Leys Community Council objected to the application, citing concern that local schools, already pressured by pupil numbers, would not be able to cope.

But Highland Council’s planning department recommended that it should go ahead, with yesterday’s south planning committee agreeing to progress it.

The new development will effectively link Inshes and Milton of Leys, turning a cul-de-sac at the end of Chestnut Way into a through road.

One councillor, Nairn’s Paul Oldham, voiced serious concern that the development would cause traffic problems for residents by creating rat runs.

However, officials advised during an adjournment that a possible amendment on those grounds would not be legally sound and, in all probability, be subject to a successful appeal by the developer.

Inshes and Milton of Leys Community Council has said its concerns about school places had not been addressed.

A statement read: “The developers have taken the ‘not me guv’ approach here.

“Comments from local residents indicating the lack of school places have not been seriously addressed in the responses.

“The developer seems to think they can walk away from this problem leaving the council to pick up the pieces.”

Councillor Ken Gowans.
Councillor Ken Gowans.

Inverness South member Ken Gowans, who represents the area, also opposed the move, citing “unresolved issues” in the planning application.

But fellow Inverness South member Duncan Macpherson pointed to the need for new housing and claimed concerns about school capacity were addressed by planners in their report.

Cllr Macpherson said: “I’m very conscious of people who are looking for houses. The council has 10,000 people on its waiting list for council houses.

“I know these are not council houses and I’d like to see a higher element of affordable houses here.

“But it has been demonstrated that this will not create over-capacity in the schools.”

Councillor Duncan Macpherson.
Councillor Duncan Macpherson.

In the report, planner Mark Fitzpatrick insisted that even in the worst-case scenario, neither Inshes Primary or Milton of Leys Primary would be pushed over capacity.

It is envisaged the development will bring in 50 extra pupils to schools projected to be over 90 per cent capacity within the next five years.

The developer will be forced to contribute £1.67 million to school development funding.

The 9.8 hectare site sits east of Inshes Road, between West Park Avenue in Inshes and Cypress Place in Milton of Leys.

It is currently undeveloped agricultural land, but only about half that area is zoned for house building, with the rest undesignated.

In all, Milton Community Council’s objection featured eight different points of concern including flood risk, school capacity, traffic, the impact on ecology and arable land and the “commercial nature of the development.”

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