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Plan for 20 homes at Mains of Fingask steading lodged with planning department at Highland Council

By Alasdair Fraser

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steading conversion plans
steading conversion plans

A traditional stone-built steading near Inverness could be transformed into 20 homes under plans before Highland Council.

A developer is seeking permission to transform the dilapidated, 19th-century farm buildings at Mains of Fingask, Kirkhill, into a courtyard-style rectangle of properties, including a retained tower feature.

But planning officials will also consider objections from two neighbouring residents. The two-storey accommodation totals around 6500sq ft of floor space, with gardens.

Applicant Gordon Thomson, of London Edinburgh Properties, has submitted revised plans to be considered under the planning authority’s delegated powers.

The change of use and redevelopment application also includes a new road and 30 residents’ parking spaces, landscaping and tree-planting, as well as retained dense forest. It attracted four public comments, including two objections from neighbours.

A letter on behalf of Ian Weir, of nearby Groam Farm, objected “in the strongest terms”, claiming that very little of the original building would be retained.

That meant the project was being inaccurately portrayed as a redevelopment when it was, in fact, a “demolition and clearance” of the site.

The 20 new homes would create a greater footprint and height of building than the existing site, he suggested.

The objection adds: “The application is not supported by a structural report, design and access statement or protected species survey.

“Policy presumes against housing in the open countryside (and) the exception for conversion of traditional buildings requires that the existing building be retained.”

Access issues relating to a single-track road were also raised given the absence of road improvement proposals. With existing large agricultural buildings directly opposite in constant use, there was also concern about the safety of children and animals near a busy working farm.

Also raised were flooding issues, the presence of bat populations and historic interest in the building, with the objection adding: “This will significantly alter the character of the area, introduce an unacceptable increase in traffic, result in conflict with a busy working farm.

“It has failed to address the relevant planning considerations as set out.”

A second objector, Paula McCormack, warned of “unacceptable congestion and risks to pedestrians” if 20 more homes were added.

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