Villagers were left in “disbelief” last night after Moray Councillors narrowly rejected proposals for a housing development that they claim would help revitalise their community.
Three separate applications for part of the seafront at Portgordon – each for three houses – were considered by Moray Council’s planning and regulatory services committee.
The proposals were made by landowner Gemma Campbell who earlier this year had proposals passed at the second time of asking for a new cafe and boatyard in the village.
Ms Campbell’s plans have split the community, with one group set up to oppose her development proposals – and another to support them.
However, planning officers rejected one application for three new homes unanimously – while the other two were defeated by 7 votes to 6.
The plans were refused on the grounds that Ms Campbell’s plans would result in an “overdeveloped and cramped appearance” on the seaward side of the village, and that she had failed to demonstrate that the proposed homes would not be at risk from flooding.
Last night the refusal to allow the application was slammed by Maureen Burrows, one of a group of villagers who formed the ‘Portgordon Development’ support group. That group emerged after the initial plans were attacked by a second group, ‘Save our Portgordon Beach’ who were set up to oppose the proposals.
The support group insisted that Save our Portgordon Beach did not speak for the village, with many people strongly in favour of plans that they insist were needed to bring visitors to Portgordon.
Following the decision on Tuesday Ms Burrows hoped that it would not affect the boatyard and cafe plans. She said: “The Moray Council decision today is very disappointing for the majority of folk in Portgordon and surrounding area that has a vision for the future of Portgordon.
“The save the beach campaigners and those against the development might be congratulating themselves but it is a personal victory and not one for the future of Portgordon.
“It is a sad legacy to leave that they chose personal gain over a development that would disperse the graveyard village image and give Portgordon a future. What do we leave for our children now – in 20 years time they will be saying what they could have had, will there still be a school, shop, pub?
“Findochty, Portknockie and Cullen are shaking their heads in disbelieve that we are rejecting this fantastic opportunity.
“Moray Council should hang their heads in shame – they spend £86million on flood defences in Elgin and continue to build there yet refuse permission for nine houses on an area that does not flood, using flooding as a reason!
“I would imagine the houses were to fund the boatyard and cafe and if they don’t go ahead then we have really lost out .
“Gemma Campbell has been nothing but considerate in her dealings with us on this project and I look forward to seeing what her plans are now.”