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Highland Council will work 'hand in hand' with businesses to realise Green Freeport potential

By Gregor White

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Business leaders believe housebuilding needs to be accelerated in the Highlands.
Business leaders believe housebuilding needs to be accelerated in the Highlands.

Highland Council has responded to worries that not enough housing is planned to meet future demand in the region.

Yesterday a coalition of business leaders called on councillors to "seize the opportunity" of the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport to boost what they say is critical infrastructure.

They want Highland Council to take a fresh look at the Inner Moray Firth Proposed Local Development Plan (IMFPLDP).

In its current form the draft plan allows for development of 800 homes a year but business leaders believe 2000 annually are needed.

It is hoped the Freeport will create more than 10,000 new jobs in the area.

Innes Smith, chief executive of housebuilder Springfield Properties, said: "New homes support and generate employment, help to prevent rent increases, contribute to local services and enhance local authority revenue through council tax. However, if we cannot get ahead of this, it will ultimately impact on investment into the region, as businesses and local people are forced to move elsewhere."

Today a council spokesman said it was aware of concerns about housing and added: "We will be discussing with colleagues in Scottish Government to ensure that the short, medium and long term options for ensuring housing delivery are addressed.

"As attention turns to the final business case stage of the Green Freeport the council continues to play a key role in delivering and enabling the set-up of the Green Freeport as part of the ICF (Inverness and Cromarty Firth) Team, and in its role as accountable body.

"A dedicated delivery programme is being developed and we will work hand in hand with businesses, investors and communities to realise this significant opportunity for Highland and the whole country, including enabling and activating housing sites for future workforce.

"Looking ahead, the council and the ICF Team will be refining the evidence for future housing and employment delivery and the new Highland Local Development Plan will also have a role in supporting the lifetime of the project."

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