Several hundred residents turned out at a public meeting to discuss common good land redevelopment in Forres – with the majority failing to be impressed by a £6.5million offer.
Called by the Forres Community Council, the meeting sought public opinion on the plan by Redco Milne to develop land at Bogton Road.
Redco Milne’s £25million retail development has been on the drawing board for five years, with one bid to build on land owned by themselves and the Forres common good already having been rejected by a public ballot.
The latest offer from the Aberdeen-based developers is the subject of a study by Moray Council – although the local authority insist that no final decision will be taken until the views of residents have been taken into account.
On Thursday at Forres Town Hall the ‘Big Bogton Debate’ was attended by two of the four local councillors, Aaron McLean and Lorna Creswell – but there was no official Moray Council representation nor did anyone from Redco Milne attend.
Following the meeting local resident Lorna Ross said: “Previously I had felt fairly sure that Forres would get a say when it went to Court, but I was left wondering indeed if that was the case now.
“I understand that although Moray Council talk about the Forres community, it sounded like it’s just the people living within the Forres Burgh area.
“Secondly it sounds like they will just be “consulted” and then potentially ignored. That was disappointing.
“The thing that frustrated me a little was an argument about Moray Council versus Common Good Fund – because what it highlighted to me was that obviously some of the councillors watch a webex [web-based conference system] but don’t actually read the supporting documentation.
“That should have stuck out like a sore thumb that one document states the risk is on the Common Good and the other states it is on Moray Council. These words should not be used synonymously – that was a dangerous mistake.”
Another resident at the debate accused the chairman of Forres Mechanics, whose ground would be replaced at a cost of around £1.5million under the plans put forward by developers, of “sitting on the fence”.
However, the club chairman, Dr James Anderson, explained that the club simply did not yet have enough information, adding: “We are not going to be moved from Mosset Park until there is something there which is at least as good as what we have at present.”
The audience were invited to show a red or green card to signify if they were in favour or against the plans – the majority raised red cards.