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Multimillion-pound plans for electric vehicle charging hub in North Kessock has 'little, if anything' to offer community

By Philip Murray

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An artist's impression of the proposed food and drink hub, convenience store and EV charging station.
An artist's impression of the proposed food and drink hub, convenience store and EV charging station.

A development proposed for North Kessock including an EV charging facility, shop and drive-thru will deter visitors from the village and threaten existing facilities opponents claim.

That's the withering conclusion of the local community council, after it issued its formal objection to the plans for the hub in North Kessock following a "well-attended public meeting".

West Coast Estates (WCE) wants to build the hub next to the A9's northern carriageway on scrubland opposite Barclay Gardens. The site sits next to the roundabout motorists approach after turning off the trunk road.

The developer says the £6 million project, which is also expected to include a convenience store and parking, could create up to 100 jobs.

It also says it will provide 16 high-speed electric vehicle (EV) charging points for up to 32 vehicles

But the plan has sparked controversy among residents and some politicians, who argue it will cause increased traffic, post road safety risks and remove well-used public open space.

Knockbain Community Council, which covers North Kessock and a number of other local villages, had demurred from taking a stance on the plans until after it could hold a public meeting.

The developer's website includes details about the site's proposed location, which would be inside the area with the orange boundary.
The developer's website includes details about the site's proposed location, which would be inside the area with the orange boundary.

Its chairman, John Stott, however, had questioned the speed with which developers wished to push through the public consultation and criticised them for not talking to the community earlier to say it had plans for the site.

And now the community council has used feedback at its recent public meeting to cite almost a dozen areas of objection to the application.

Top of that list were "serious concerns" over traffic, with existing worries over the short slip lane and speed of vehicles leaving the A9 into the village already well known locally.

"We consider that the whole area needs redesigned to cope with the extra traffic that this development would undoubtedly create," said the community council. "Considerable issues already exist for cyclists and pedestrians using the ‘active travel route’ and this hazard would be multiplied if the development goes ahead."

Other concerns raised include the "considerable noise, light and exhaust pollution" the site would pose for nearby housing, as well as an increase in litter.

Related articles: Drive-thru plan flouts Highland Council's local development plan zoning, argue Highland Greens

New A9 food and drink hub 'to create up to 100 jobs'

They also questioned the viability of the EV charging hub, arguing that it appeared under-powered to cater to the demands of long-distance A9 motorists, and accused it of being a "Trojan Horse" to help get the wider plan greenlit.

"We do not consider the EV chargers to be of sufficient power and would therefore not appeal to the longer distance driver as the time these chargers take is quite considerable," it claimed.

"If the charger power was increased, we understand a sub-station would be required which could create noise pollution by way of an electric ‘hum.’ There would, however, be some advantage for a few locals who do not currently have access to EV chargers."

It also questioned the need for a new shop, adding; "There is already a shop in the village which also contains a post office. This is an essential amenity for the village, and one that serves a large portion of the community who are elderly, disabled, or do you not have access to private transport."

Further concerns included "inadequate toilet provision" unless the area was 24/7 to cater to drivers at night, and similar concerns over litter management. Concerns over smells from the hot food takeaway on neighbouring houses, the loss of mature trees on the site, and a "poor" building design not in keeping with the local area were also raised.

"It is our view that the development has no potential of financial benefit to the village, instead it will stop tourists coming down to the village centre and spending money," it added.

"In summary, Knockbain Community Council consider that this development has little, if anything to offer the people of North Kessock and based on considerable debate at our public meeting the development should not go ahead."

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