End could finally be in sight for sale of Forres Common Good land

PEOPLE IN FORRES may finally pencil in a firm date for a decision on the sale of common good land at Bogton Road to developers – ending a long running saga and a series of delays.

The land at Bogton Road – which includes that occupied by Highland League side Forres Mechanics – has been the subject of continued debate for several years.

When the issue was originally put to consultation with local residents, 70% rejected selling the land to developers Redco Milne.

That was not to be the end of the issue however, as a renewed bid was launched by the developers who sought to purchase the land for £6.5million with Moray Council receiving a share of annual rental income.

Moray Council granted planning permission in 2013 for a retail development on the site – with a provision built into that securing the future for the football club.

However, an online protest group was formed under the banner ‘Battle for Bogton’ who have argued against the sale of the land and adherence to the will of the community who had voted to reject any sale.

The local authority ordered a specialist independent survey and legal advice to be undertaken by Culverwell Property Consultants in July 2014 – but according to the paper put before councillors next week that has been subjected to a series of delays – primarily caused by the developer introducing revised versions of their proposals.  There was also a delay caused by the developers and Forres Mechanics taking some time to agree the design and cost of a new stadium.

The long running saga may not, however, end when the council meet on Wednesday, as at that Full Council gathering members will be updated on the current situation but are not, at this stage, in a position to take any decision.

Culverwell has indicated that their long-awaited report should reach the local authority by September 30, with the report to councillors adding: “Based on that latest date of receipt, officers would expect to be in a position to report to on its findings to a meeting of the Council within a month of receiving the Culverwell’s report.

“The report to Committee will contain confidential information and will address complex issues relating to finance options, procurement and risk and Members may wish to hold a special meeting to enable sufficient debate of the issues a possible date could be the October 27, following the Policy and Resources Committee.

“Although officers have been assured that Culverwell’s report will be received by no later than September 30, members may wish to set a longstop date by which a decision will be taken irrespective of whether the Culverwell report has been received and is viewed by officers as comprehensive. October 27 may be viewed as a suitable longstop date.”

The full paper being put to councillors can be read online via the Moray Council website.