A meeting between Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, and the developer behind controversial plans to build on the seafront at Portgordon has resulted in withdrawal of some of the proposals.
Mr Lochhead met with representatives of the local community in July to learn more about their objections to plans for a two-stage development that would see several homes built to the east of Portgordon Harbour, along with a boatyard, cafe and several solar panels. There are also plans to site the cafe alongside the historic ice house, creating a new tourist attraction in the community.
A significant group of local residents objected, however, in particular to the solar panels, while other objections came in from public bodies concerned about the affect additional traffic might cause.
Behind the development proposal is landowner Gemma Campbell, who had consulted with local residents before submitting her plans to Moray Council. Ms Campbell then held a private meeting with Mr Lochhead last week, following which “significant changes” to her plans will be made.
These include the withdrawal of the solar panels and a redesign of the planned boatyard to tie in more appropriately with future plans for the harbour. Ms Campbell is also seeking to change the design of the cafe proposal, creating a lower visual impact and also incorporating a ‘History of Portgordon’ display within the former ice house.
Welcoming the review of the plans, Mr Lochhead said: “Following the concerns raised with me by Portgordon residents I have now had a helpful and constructive face to face meeting with Gemma Campbell to highlight the issues that were raised by the community.
“I explained the community’s strong feelings on the proposals and the reasons behind the concerns and also discussed with Ms Campbell some of the potential options moving forward.
“Further to that meeting, Ms Campbell has informed me that she is withdrawing most of her proposals with a view to making significant changes.
“The dropping of the solar array proposals is particularly significant given the concerns that were raised about the foreshore plans and Ms Campbell is willing to consider the prospect of community ownership of that part of land, an idea that I am keen to further discuss with the community and the landowner.”
The MSP added that further proposals are now likely to be submitted to Moray Council’s planning department and confirmed that there was now time to bring the community and Ms Campbell together for further discussions.
He said: ” The proposals that have not been withdrawn and the debate surrounding those that may be resubmitted will of course continue to be the subject of much intense discussion.
” These proposals are of course controversial but at least people are talking about and taking an interest in their community’s future.
“Portgordon has many assets not least its people and there is an opportunity to focus on securing a bright future. The more consensus that can be reached in relation to what is best for Portgordon the better.”