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Plans for 800 homes and a primary school at Fairways golf course in Inverness are set to be revealed on Monday amid local fears about traffic and infrastructure

By Scott Maclennan

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PLANS to build 800 homes on the former Fairways golf course in the south of Inverness are to be put before the public on Monday.

Aberdeen-based Kirkwood Homes is behind the move and released details of its plans yesterday, although news of the proposed development first broke more than a year ago.

At that point Kirkwood, together with Fairways Inverness Ltd, submitted proposals for the housing plan to be included in Highland Council’s development masterplan as it was being revised.

It was labelled “not supported” by the council however, as part of a consultation on that plan.

The company has now stated it intends to submit a proposal of application notice to create:

  • 800 private and affordable houses
  • A new primary school
  • A new community campus
  • Office and retail or commercial development
  • An upgrade of the current nine-hole golf course
  • New woodland.

Local councillor Ken Gowans was scathing of the proposals.

“The non-preferred sites are ‘not supported’ because they are of a scale that would take strategic growth of the city in a new, unsustainable direction and would have an unacceptable adverse impact on the setting and character of the city as well as the loss of publicly accessible green space,” he said.

“The visceral reaction from the members of the public who have been made aware of this plan is one of horror.

“On this occasion the developers appear to be tone deaf to the public’s wishes.

“I would be surprised if the developer has not already assessed this as a very challenging planning application to take forward and is probably already looking at what the appeal process looks like.”

Cllr Ken Gowans says the council believes the site, if developed, could move in a 'new unsustainable direction.'
Cllr Ken Gowans says the council believes the site, if developed, could move in a 'new unsustainable direction.'

The chairman of Slackbuie Community Council, Mark Lindley-Highfield, said it had not received a single comment in support of the proposed development.

“Even when there were rumours of this development being circulated, residents were in contact with us,” he said.

“We had over 50 representations, all pinpointing why they opposed any development in that area.

“In terms of the representations we have received from residents already, the problems we have had highlighted to us – the problems of infrastructure – will just be exacerbated by such developments.

“The strain on services like GPs, dentists – people are struggling to register with some of these so we don’t have the infrastructure for the increased population that the development would imply.

“To be honest, the evidence against that development seems to have grown over that time as well. Particularly through the Covid pandemic, people have really learned to appreciate the amenity of this land.”

A spokesman for Inshes & Milton of Leys Community Council echoed much of that and questioned whether this was the right way to go about such a major planning application.

“The community council will be calling an emergency meeting with the community," he said. "The email feedback regarding this application is, so far, 100 per cent against the proposal.

"Highland Council have recently published the Inner Moray Firth Development Plan with the associated Main Issues Report in which the considered position of the council is that the area of the Fairways Golf Course is designated, for many reasons, as not supported for development and should be protected.

"The report is currently open to public consultation until 1st April. It is therefore the opinion of the Inshes and Milton of Leys Community Council that it is inappropriate for any private consultation leading to a planning application be made for this site while this process is being undertaken since it would invalidate the public and only legal consultation process.”

Colin Crombie, managing director of Kirkwood Homes Ltd, said: “We are pleased to be bringing forward proposals for new family homes at Fairways in Inverness, of which 25 per cent will be affordable, as it is vitally important that all those who wish to live in Inverness have the opportunity to do so.

“In addition, we are working with commercial partners to deliver new business and leisure opportunities building on and improving the existing offer in the area.

“The construction phase of the development will see the creation of 125-150 jobs with an overall investment figure of around £200 million.

“This is vital investment to Inverness at such a critical time for the economy due to the impact of the pandemic.”

Kirkwood Homes will carry out an online consultation which can be accessed at www.fairwaysconsultation.co.uk from Monday.

The consultation will include two live chat sessions taking place from 3pm-6pm on Wednesday, March 31 and Wednesday, May 19.

Members of the public will be able to comment on the proposals until April 16 following the first session and June 4 following the second session.

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