Campaigners fighting to halt plans to build a retail development on common good land in Forres have accused Moray Council officials of keeping them in the dark.
Aberdeen based firm Redco Milne have been pressing ahead with a £25million plan to create the retail development on land at Bogton Road, including the land on which local Highland League side Forres Mechanics ground stands.
A survey carried out by Moray Council amongst residents in the town came out overwhelmingly against the development plans first tabled in 2008 – but the company was granted outline planning permission for their plans to create a new supermarket, petrol station and additional retail units on the site.
That sparked immediate protests from residents who said that the plans completely ignored their views that the common good land should not be used for such a purpose.
Redco Milne say that their plans would create up to 500 new jobs in the area and promised a new home for Forres Mechanics to the east of their proposed development.
In a new twist a response to a Freedom of Information Request has revealed that Moray Council officials held meetings with Redco Milne representatives to discuss the proposals three times since June – but no formal note of the discussions had been made.
Bogton Road resident Jacky Barrere said that meant Moray Council were keeping residents in the dark over the issue, saying: “They don’t bother to tell us, it’s just a lack of consultation – if you don’t ask, you don’t find out.
“Why are they having informal meetings? They are business people and these should be formal, Moray Council is a business working for the people.
“They should be minuting everything that is said because it will come back and bit them.”
However, a spokesman for Moray Council insisted that such informal discussions “routinely take place with prospective applicants in relation to planning matters – and because of the informal nature of these discussions no formal record is normally kept.”
Online campaigners against the project have attracted over 1500 signatures to an online petition against the development plans.