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Moray needs better facilities ahead of new homes

By Hazel Lawson Local Democracy Reporter

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Schools, dentists and health facilities need to be already in place before large housing developments are completed.

Councillor Sandy Keith.
Councillor Sandy Keith.

That's the call from Sandy Keith who's now back as a councillor following the local elections in May.

Cllr Keith (Elgin North, Labour) states that Moray is experiencing various problems because its population is growing faster than its infrastructure.

He said: "Planning applications come forward for houses that are allocated in the local plan.

"The problem is they seem to get built quicker than the ability to make sure all the services are there.

"If there’s going to be all these houses, we really need to get these facilities in place prior to clogging up the roads and filling up the schools.

"Most of the houses being built are family homes, so it doesn’t take a lot of thought to recognise there’s a need for a maternity service.

"We really need the infrastructure in place."

Cllr Keith's call follows recent issues with dentists de-registering patients at one practice.

There are currently none in Moray accepting NHS patients.

It also comes while there's a lack of maternity provision at Dr Gray’s Hospital.

This has seen most Moray mums having to undergo a 120-mile round trip to give birth in Aberdeen.

Meanwhile, Elgin has experienced a housing boom in recent years.

The Findrassie development off Lossiemouth Road to the north of the town will see 1500 homes built.

A further 2500 homes are part of the Elgin South master plan.

Both developments include schools and community facilities and are expected to be completed within the next 20 to 25 years.

However Linkwood Primary School, included in plans for the south of the town, was originally supposed to open to pupils in August 2018 but did not until January last year.

Cllr Keith, who is also an advocate of building a bypass for Elgin, previously sat on the local authority from 1996 to 2007.

He said: "When I was in the council before we had a problem with dentists, and nothing seems to have changed in the last 15 years.

"The roads in Elgin are much more congested than they used to be.

"New Elgin has expanded to the south, while in the north there’s more housing and development in the coming years.

"I’m just wondering if we’re getting it right."

Cllr Keith accepts there is a need for more housing, and that the infrastructure issues are not necessarily caused by the local authority.

He feels the Scottish Government needs to take action and has pledged to lobby MSPs on the topic.

Last week the planning committee, which cllr Keith is a member of, approved 39 houses and 10 council flats at the Spynie Hospital site off Duffus Road.

Agreement was also given for 48 private and 22 affordable houses at Lesmurdie Fields for Robertson Homes.

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