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Campaigners vow to fight controversial Invergordon housing plan, after application formally lodged

By Philip Murray

An aerial view looking south-west towards the development.
An aerial view looking south-west towards the development.

“DISAPPOINTED” campaigners have vowed to fight a “fundamentally flawed” plan for almost 80 houses on a greenfield site on the outskirts of Invergordon.

Capstone Construction and Highland Council are hoping to build 79 homes on land east of the House of Rosskeen.

The application, which was finally lodged last week, comes after a period of public consultation and, if approved, would result in a mix of two-storey houses and flats being built ranging in size from two to four bedrooms.

The estate would result in 49 rented or affordable homes, with a further 30 private dwellings.

But the move has proven deeply controversial, with residents complaining that the location is one of few open green spaces in Invergordon and the housing would rob the community of it.

Related: ‘Once in lifetime’ freeport chance to regenerate Invergordon must not be missed

Related: Invergordon consultation on 80-home development near Rosskeen House as consultants cite freeport demand

Related: Invergordon 80-home development proposals in the frame as proposal of application notice lodged for Easter Ross town

Although the open area earmarked for housing is mostly treeless, concerns have also been raised over the impact of the development on the ancient woodland that surrounds it, as some trees on the fringes will be felled to accommodate the homes and access road.

An artist's impression of some of the housing.
An artist's impression of some of the housing.

Richard Cross, of the Save Our Green Space (Sogs) campaign group which was set up in the wake of earlier consultation, said the decision to press ahead with the application despite recent consultation responses was “obviously disappointing” and he vowed to lobby local councillors to vote against the proposals when they go before Highland Council.

“I’m obviously disappointed that they are still pursuing it. I think that their application is seriously flawed in all sorts of ways.

“Greenfield sites are meant to be the lowest priority for development going forward,” he continued, citing national planning guidelines, and adding that the latest local development plan for Invergordon did not earmark the site for development.

Mr Cross also warned about the impact on local school rolls, with Invergordon already struggling to accommodate all pupils in the wake of the devastating fire at Park Primary.

An aerial view looking south towards the housing development.
An aerial view looking south towards the housing development.

“I’m disappointed that they have seen fit to take it further,” he said. “It’s so fundamentally flawed it should not have gone beyond the consultation stage. I heard that they were privately advised to drop it.

“Nevertheless we will be lobbying councillors. We will obviously be lodging our objections and encouraging everyone to do likewise and will be supporting anyone who wishes to do so.”

In supporting documents submitted with the planning application, the developers acknowledge that some trees will be felled, including some to accommodate the access road at the Polish War Memorial, but added: “A large area of the woodland is Scheduled Ancient Woodland and the development is kept outwith these areas.

“Root protection areas identify the areas where there should be no development and the proposals avoid affecting these areas.

An artist's impression of an informal play area in woodland to the south of the housing.
An artist's impression of an informal play area in woodland to the south of the housing.

“The access road does affect a number of trees at the corner where the road is realigned at the Polish War Memorial. These are replanted five new trees to each one removed and details of these are in the landscaping proposals.”

Turning attention to the area’s “non-preferred” status for development in the newest local development plan – which is still to be formally adopted – they added: “The land allocation has been recommended for removal from the new development plan as the process to formulate and conclude it preceded the Freeport status.

“However, we expect development in this area will be supported given Invergordon will play a key role in accommodating future residential development supporting the expected growth from the delivery of the Green Freeport,” they added.

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