Campaigners seeking changes to the Moray Local Plan (MLP) insist that Moray Council have misinterpreted Scottish Government guidelines for new housing estates.
A public meeting was held last week in an attempt by Moray Council to explain their reasoning behind changes to the local plan that would see two Lossiemouth cul-de-sacs turned into access roads for a 250+ house estate.
Officials at the local authority made changes to the MLP where it outlines plans for the homes development in the Kinnedar/Sunbank area of the town. They insisted that the changes, which aim to link the new estate with Boyd Anderson Drive via Fisher Place and Halliman Way, were the result of a requirement of the Scottish Government’s ‘Designing Streets’ policy.
That has been strongly disputed by residents who formed the ‘Stop the B.A.D. Access Group’, lodging a petition with the local authority and canvassing support from the Lossiemouth Community Council and Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead.
Last week two council officials – Jim Grant, the head of development services, and Richard Gerring from the roads department, attended a public meeting chaired by local councillor John Cowe.
Previously the action group had insisted that the Scottish Government guidance was advisory and not compulsory – and that Moray Council had exceeded their remit in making the changes to the MLP, insisting that developers should use the two streets as vehicle access points.
Following the meeting group member Robert Murdoch said: “How can a planning authority promote a change to the Local Plan to provide a controversial access to a site with a potential developer – at the same time as dealing fairly with opponents to the proposals who they are consulting.
“Surely pre-planning meeting procedures involving matters under debate should be set aside during statutory consultations with bodies and the public regarding the Development Plan when objections are made.”
While they are still awaiting a formal response from the Scottish Government over the status of their Designing Streets policy, group members insist that early guidance they have indicates that document provides guidance that is not enforceable by law.
Campaigners are also challenging Moray Council’s position that their 400-signature petition was not valid for consideration by the petition’s committee, but rather would be considered by the planning committee.
Group representative Gillian Priestley said: “The meeting raised a number of issues which need to be pursued and we will take this up when the situation regarding legal status of Designing Streets is clear.
“We are of the view that the Council should not continue to encourage the developer to include such access when the Local Plan may be subject to an appeal to the Reporter, they are in effect deciding against the objections to the Local Plan.
“We are also considering an approach to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman after a formal request to the Council to change their position on vehicular access to Boyd Anderson Drive.”