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Springfield to appeal Forres planning rejection

By Staff Reporter

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A PROPERTY developer has vowed to appeal a decision by Moray Council to refuse plans for 316 homes in Forres.

Springfield Properties' proposal for the housing development on the southern edge of the town at Ferrylea was thrown out yesterday during a meeting of the area's planning and regulatory services committee.

Councillors spent more than an hour considering the Knockomie Braes application, which planning officers had recommended for approval. Issues ranged from roads infrastructure to public transport links and from the capacity of the sewage system to the position of larger housing on the site.

A site layout of the proposed site.
A site layout of the proposed site.

Cllr Aaron McLean (Forres) gave the application his backing, stating: "I take some comfort with the amount of work that has gone in to get it there and officers are happy that it does meet the policies we have.

"It might only meet them just in some cases, but it does meet the policies we have."

Talks came to an end when a motion for the application to be denied by Councillor Amy Taylor (Heldon and Laich) was backed by five votes to three with two abstentions.

A masterplan for the site has already received council backing, but Cllr Taylor argued the application itself fell short and the developer had done just enough to pass quality audits.

She said: "I don’t feel that we should accept just the bare minimum to be done for this site, I think we should demand that we have more."

Summing up, she added: "We approved the masterplan, we have recognised the need for housing, but in my opinion this is very far from the masterplan that we approved and there is a long way to go before we comfortably comply with the policies."

Seconding the motion was Cllr Mark Macrae (Fochabers/Lhanbryde), who added: "We do need housing and it needs to be the right housing in the right area and if masterplans are to be developed we should adhere to them in so far as policy goes."

Following the meeting, Springfield's north managing director Dave Main said: "We are very disappointed and surprised with today’s decision. As well as providing over 300 homes, these proposals support economic development in Forres and the wider area of Moray at a time when there is a pressing need.

“We worked with the council to develop proposals which meet housing need and regulations. Satisfied with our proposals, council planning officials recommended our application of 237 private and 79 much needed affordable homes for approval.

"The planning committee did not follow this recommendation and voted to refuse the application."

During yesterday's meeting, a separate application for six blocks of student flats, housing up to 42 students, on adjoining land was given approval. As part of the plan, Springfield has agreed to provide e-bikes for each occupant along with secure storage.

That would enable students attending Glasgow School of Art's campus on the Altyre Estate to cycle the two miles to class.

Mr Main said: “This refusal will also hold up a third party development of 42 student flats, which was approved at the same meeting. The development of the student accommodation is dependent on infrastructure – roads and services – that form part of our application.

“Fortunately the Scottish Government has procedures in place by which we can appeal this decision and seek the costs of doing so from the Council. We will be going ahead with an appeal.”

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