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Plan in the works which if approved would see 15 new homes built in woodland at Sandown and the demolition of the cottage Fort Reay in Sandown Farm Lane

By Donald Wilson

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An artist's impression of the proposed new housing.
An artist's impression of the proposed new housing.

Plans for 15 new homes in woodland at Sandown will be lodged with Highland Council later this summer.

The proposals, if approved, involve the demolition of the cottage Fort Reay in Sandown Farm Lane, the construction of a courtyard of four ‘downsizing’ homes and 11 other three, four and five-bedroomed properties in a project on a six-acre site.

Andrew Bayne of ABC Planning and Design attended a meeting of Nairn West & Suburban Community Council as part of the pre-application consultation on behalf of the prospective applicant, owner of Fort Reay, William Macleod.

Local residents were in attendance and expressed appreciation that they were being consulted.

But concerns about surface water drainage, sewage and access from the single track lane featured.

An exhibition at Nairn Community & Arts Centre and a further Zoom online meeting have also been held. Mr Bayne said the proposal was to bring the woodland back to life and ensure its long-term future.

“Our vision is to put nature first. It’s a wooded site and it’s not in good condition. The proposal is to create a modest sustainable living landscape, in which 15 new houses will be built around the existing natural landscape.”

He said in one part of the site it was very wet and there were dead and dying trees and there would be no development in that location.

The best trees would be kept and new native species replanted.

Mr Bayne said large passing places would be constructed at the entrance to the site and no surface water would be directed into the Alton Burn.

“The best place for affordable housing in Nairn is the centre of town and we want to make a contribution to that. There will be a developer contribution and we would lend our support to ensure its spent locally.”

Mr Bayne said the existing cottage was not in good condition. “We felt if we took it out we could create four downsizing homes in a courtyard then build three, four and five-bedroomed homes to create a sense of community.”

He said he was aware the lane was used as a rat-run by traffic but the larger passing places would help traffic flow and the homes would be designed to promote working from home.

“The irony is a busy more active street is a safer one and to encourage improved driver behaviour there are things we can do beside the site and argue the case for a safer Sandown Lane.”

He added they would also be working with Scottish Water to find a drainage solution within the public system. But there were alternatives.

Neighbour Liz Burgess of Sandown House said they built a four-bedroom guest house (in 2010).

“But we had a massive problem with the council on the access.”

She said what concerned residents was the speed and aggressiveness of drivers using the lane as a rat-run. But she said residents welcomed the consultation by the developer.

Dr Joan Noble feared the development would put a lot of pressure on sewers and drains further up the line and newly co-opted community councillor Graham Stuart feared the project could be seen as the thin edge of the wedge and the community council, which has resisted large-scale redevelopment for housing on neighbouring Sandown Lands, could not make an exception.

Brian Stewart, CC Secretary commented: “The good news is it’s a modest scale, a proposal that is kind of in scale with what happened at Altonburn (Hotel). It’s not what happened at Lochloy and what Highland Council planned for Sandown.”

However he cautioned: “We have had developers in the past who have said ‘It’ll be fine’. Go and look at Lochloy.”

William MacLeod, owner of the site said: ‘I’m delighted with the proposals put forward by Andrew Bayne of ABC and Lynsay Bell and her team, at Studio LBA

“We’ve taken great care to consider the local environment.

“The objective was to design a development which put the local environment, particularly the trees, first and locate the housing around them. Some of the trees are spectacular, they’ve taken years and years to reach their full potential; it would have been heartbreaking to have ignored them in our aim to create a sympathetic development’.

The planning process was likely to begin formally in August. Comments on the consultation close on June 27.

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