Source: Scotland – Highland Council
The Black Isle, Dingwall and Seaforth Members have endorsed parts of a consultation document called a Main Issues Report (MIR) which are applicable to their geographical area. The MIR has been shaped by a series of appraisals, engagements and discussions. Once the related Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan is approved it will become the principal, local, land use policy document in determining planning applications and other development investment decisions in the Inner Moray Firth area.
The Black Isle, Dingwall and Seaforth Committee is one of 5 local committees that cover the geographical spread of the Plan. The Plan area includes the eastern part of Ross and Cromarty, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire plus a small, mainly unpopulated, part of Badenoch and Strathspey. It stretches from Garve in the west to Tain in the north and from Auldearn in the east to Tomatin and Fort Augustus in the south.
Black Isle, Dingwall and Seaforth Area Committee Chair Councillor Gordon Adam welcomed the opportunity to scrutinize work done to date. He said: “This important consultation document sets out a vision for the future along with the mechanisms on how this will be delivered, as well as options for where land should be allocated for future development and identify other areas where valued green spaces should be safeguarded.
“To get to this stage there has been a considerable amount of work which has included community council and other community group briefing sessions, discussions with statutory key agencies and we have had the chance to examine the document during our Ward briefings.
“It is being prepared at a time when a number of significant issues are likely to affect how we plan the future of this area, not least Brexit and the economic recovery from the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is also the important opportunity to take into account the council’s commitment to address the climate and ecological emergency so I look forward to moving forward to the public consultation stage which will give everyone the chance to get involved and help shape the future.”
Within Dingwall, the MIR is consolidating growth around Dingwall North in an effort to balance the need and ability to deliver improved transport infrastructure whilst providing viable sites. The preferred sites should also enable the section of road known as Dingwall North Link Road to progress. Risk of flooding continues to be an issue for some sites in Dingwall and this is reflected in site preferences and their preferred uses around Dingwall Business Park and the Riverside.
Within Seaforth, the MIR prefers consolidation of the most sustainable settlements via implementation of existing planning permissions and/or existing development plan allocations mainly at Muir of Ord and Conon Bridge where a good range of facilities exist, and sustainable travel links are available. Very few new sites are supported but with exceptions being made in particular for employment land expanding Muir of Ord industrial estate and the Marts at Maryburgh Roundabout.
Within the Black Isle, the MIR prefers consolidation rather than significant growth because of the lack of sustainable transport links and/or poor existing range of facilities and employment opportunities in the main settlements. The completion of existing allocations and/or planning permissions are supported at Cromarty, Rosemarkie, Fortrose, Avoch, Munlochy, North Kessock, and Culbokie.
New housing development sites are listed as not being recommended at Cromarty, Avoch, Munlochy, North Kessock and particularly at Tore where the existing major expansion area is proposed for deletion. A mixture of existing and new community, employment and tourism sites are preferred at Cromarty, Avoch, Munlochy, Culbokie, Tore and North Kessock.
Once the other Area Committees that cover the geographic area of the Plan also have the chance to discuss proposals, a public consultation will be launched. Due to the current Covid restrictions creative, enhanced online digital methods will be used to better engage with the public and ensure adequate participation and responses. Full details will be provided ahead of the consultation starting.
Next year, representations received from this consultation will be reported back to the five relevant area committees for comment, before being presented to the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, for decision on what the Plan should contain in its Proposed Plan form. At this stage the Plan will represent the settled view of The Highland Council and be re-issued for public consultation.