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Planning row over plans for sports hub at Loch Ness village of Foyers

By Alasdair Fraser

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Proposed site of sports complex at Foyers. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Proposed site of sports complex at Foyers. Picture: Gary Anthony.

PLANS to create a community sports complex has stirred strong opposition in a Loch Ness-side village.

Stratherrick and Foyers Community Trust wants to build the new centre – featuring a community hall, sports and play facilities, gym, climbing wall and covered multi-use pitch – near Gray’s Park and Riverside in Lower Foyers.

The move is part of the trust’s vision for enhancing the area by investing income received from wind farm and hydro scheme developers.

The idea received overwhelming backing – with 82 per cent in favour – in a trust survey of broader community opinion.

But that narrowed to just under 60 per cent support when the proposed location was considered. A planning application to Highland Council has drawn 18 objections and two expressions of support.

Residents near the greenfield site, beside Loch Ness Shores caravan site, have raised concerns over road safety, noise nuisance from traffic crossing a metal baillie bridge, light pollution, loss of privacy and destruction of wildlife habitat.

Stratherrick and Foyers Community Council, while supportive of the trust’s aims, opposes the project as “not right for this area” and “not in keeping aesthetically with the rural environment”.

Highland Council’s historic environment team wants an archaeological survey and any necessary excavation work carried out, while the council’s transport planning team would seek road widening work, new parking bays and a financial contribution towards upkeep of the bridge.

An environmental health response stated: “Noise from this type of area can sometimes become a problem for neighbours. Floodlighting could also disturb householders if care is not taken.”

The field earmarked for sports complex at Foyers. Picture: Gary Anthony.
The field earmarked for sports complex at Foyers. Picture: Gary Anthony.

Trust chairwoman Kirsty Balfour stressed the site had been bought for the community, with community backing, seven years ago.

She said: “Residents got together and wanted to secure the field for recreation purposes. The trust organised the purchase through the Scottish Land Fund.

“It went to a number of consultations, over a number of years, as to what would be included. Just before lockdown, we had the final masterplan presented at one of the community consultations – and that’s what has been submitted.

“There is lots of support within the wider community. The general feeling, through all the workshops, was that we want more activities for kids and the community. This sits quite well with those aspirations.

“We want to take account of residents’ feeling and have started a steering group to try to go forward with them.”

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