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Opposition to plans for new homes at Balloch Farm between Balloch and Culloden

By Gregor White

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An online campaign is calling for a community buyout of land at Balloch Farm where more than 300 homes could be built.
An online campaign is calling for a community buyout of land at Balloch Farm where more than 300 homes could be built.

Controversial plans to build 312 homes on fields to the east of Inverness have sparked an online campaign calling for a community buyout of the site.

The planning application, submitted on behalf of Highland Council, is for a site at Balloch Farm between Balloch and Culloden.

But the proposed development has prompted opposition including a Save Our Green Space website urging people to register their objections.

“The fields and surrounding woods are a valuable green space,” it maintains.

“The area is regularly used by local residents for fresh air and exercise and is home to an abundance of plants and wildlife.”

It states the site is owned by the Goodbody Trust, which was set to administer the estate of the late Mr Goodbody, and believes his hope was that the council would act in the best interests of the local community in taking up the option to buy the land.

It points out the local community can apply to buy the land using the Scottish Government’s Community Right to Buy Scheme.

The issue was set to be discussed last night at Balloch Community Council.

Chairman Ian Williams understood the strength of feeling against the proposals but also acknowledged other arguments that the community would benefit if some of the land was gifted to Culloden Academy and Balloch Primary School as well as for the creation of allotments.

“It is a difficult one,” he said.

“No-one likes to see good agricultural land built on but also there is a need for houses.”

He said the option of a community buyout had been mentioned as a possibility at previous community council meetings but so far no-one had come forward with ideas.

“In order to have a community buyout, you have to have a plan for it,” he said.

In the neighbouring Smithton and Culloden Community Council area, outgoing chairman David McGrath said he was not opposed to the development which he understood would be “so-called affordable housing”.

“At the moment, it is offered for social housing for which there is a major demand,” he said. “At the moment, we don’t see a reason to put in any objections.”

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