Public debate set over £6.5m Forres Common Good land offer

Plans for Common Good land in Forres.

People in Forres are being given an opportunity express their views over development plans on common good land that has had a value of £6.5million placed on it.

The Forres Community Council has announced that they will host a public debate on the proposals in the town hall on Thursday, January 30.

An expert on the laws of common good land, Andy Wightman, has been invited to attend the debate along with local politicians and officials from developers Redco Milne.

The move comes after it was revealed this week Redco Milne, who have been trying to purchase the land for development at Bogton Road for the last five years, has placed a value of £6.5million on the property – £1.5million of which would be used to build a new stadium for Highland League side Forres Mechanics, whose Mosset Park ground stands in the way of the planned development.

In addition to purchasing the land Redco Milne are offering to return ownership of the land to the local community after 35 years, while Moray Council could also receive a portion of rental value on the property.

Redco Milne first launched their development bid in 2008 before a year later reviewing their original plans, which included a Hotel and Retail development. Public exhibitions were held in 2010 but a year later a Council survey of Forres residents overwhelmingly rejected plans to sell the land.

However, developers returned with a renewed bid last year – and councillors approved their planning application in principle.

The renewed bid is to be considered by Moray Council’s policy and resources committee on Tuesday, with a paper prepared by officials saying that the common good account would benefit from a “significant” capital sum.

In the report officials say that while public opinion was clearly against the original proposal to dispose of the common good land things had moved on. It says: “At that time no information was provided to the public regarding the potential financial gain to the Forres common good fund.”

Councillors will be asked on Tuesday if they wish to obtain a further report on the risks and opportunities of the proposals or if they wish to drop the matter altogether.

The debate on January 30 is being held from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

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