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Fortrose and Rosemarkie campsite lease fears

By Gregor White

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Tom Heath aired concerns over the lease negotiations.
Tom Heath aired concerns over the lease negotiations.

Worried community leaders in Fortrose and Rosemarkie want campsite leases to go to tender

They fear that, if they are simply signed off by Highland Council, their villages could miss out on up to £500,000 of common good cash.

Highland Council has been accused of a lack of “commercial realism” by Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council (FRCC) after the Black Isle body claimed that rent negotiations on two local campsites risk under-valuing their actual worth.

The new community council fears the two villages could lose out on between £250,000 and £500,000.

Their concerns came to light after Fortrose Bay Campsite’s tenants requested a new 30-year lease, which could begin in 2025 when the existing agreement ends.

Because the land belongs to the common good, this request has automatically triggered the beginning of a public consultation process through Highland Council’s Ross and Cromarty committee.

But the possible terms of the lease – both its longevity and potential price – have got the FRCC worried. It is already talking to Highland Council over separate concerns about negotiations for the Caravan and Camping Club of Great Britain’s site in Rosemarkie. FRCC claims this separate Rosemarkie lease extension, which would begin in 2026, grossly under-values the land’s worth.

Community council chairman Dr Tom Heath said: “The terms of the Rosemarkie negotiation are not public but it is known that earlier in discussions Highland Council argued that the current rent of a little more than £6000 [a year] was a reasonable basis for a long-term lease.

“FRCC has presented strong evidence that this is a gross under-valuation and would lose the common good fund between £250,000 and £500,000 in potential income of the life of the lease.”

To get the “real value” of both sites Dr Heath has called for the option to lease to go out to tender “as per the normal policy of Highland Council”.

Acknowledging FRCC’s concerns over the possible campsite leases, Black Isle councillor Gordon Adam promised that Highland Council would work for a fair deal for all.

He said: “Only limited information can be made public because of reasons of commercial confidentiality, but options including tendering will be open for discussion. We will work for a deal that is fair to both the community and the campsite lease holders.”

Highland Council confirmed it had received FRCC’s letter and will “address the points raised” in its reply.

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