COMMUNITY CLAIMS THAT two narrow cul-de-sacs in Lossiemouth were not suitable as a main access route to a new 261-unit housing estate have been narrowly dismissed by Moray councillors.
A full day hearing of the circumstances surrounding the proposals for building the homes by Tullochs of Cummingston ended with a green light on the casting vote of local councillor Chris Tuke.
That was despite an intense local residents’ campaign backed unanimously by the Lossiemouth Community Council that Fisher Place and Halliman Way were not suitable for use as main access points for the development.
A special planning hearing heard arguments from community leaders and a string of campaigners, all stressing the importance of building the new estate on farmland to the south of Boyd Anderson Drive in the town.
Community campaigners have disputed the planned access to the new homes, with the developers insisting that they could not build a new access road to the A941 Lossiemouth to Elgin road as they did not own the land.
Instead, and with the backing of the Council’s planning and transportation officers, they sought to open the two quite cul-de-sacs as main access routes.
A 403-signature petition and 63 formal objections were rallied against that option in the Council Chamber on Wednesday, all making it clear that the only dispute they had with the plan was access – and insisting that the development be delayed until the developers could come back with a realistic plan to access the new homes from the B9135 to the west and A941 to the east of the site.
Opening the objections a spokesman for the Lossiemouth Community Council said that their members remained unanimously against the use of Fisher Place and Halliman Way, saying that any development should stick to the original Moray Plan that cited the A941 access option as the only viable one.
The Community Council said: “Quite correctly, Moray Council place a great deal of weight on the value of setting out a local development plan. We appreciate the efforts that are put into that plan, including consultations with communities to inform its development.
“The plan exists as a blueprint for the future environment we live in – and it is here that we are at odds with this particular development.
“When departure from that blueprint is proposed it should only ever be for the right reasons, it should only ever be agreed with the same weight and value as was given to the original development plan. It remains our view that this is not the case in this planning application.”
Committee DeadlockedLand will soon be filled with housing – but locals insist access is all wrong.
The Committee heard a string of objections from the local community over three hours that ended with a “compromise” motion being put by Speyside SNP councillor Mike McConnachie, that the proposal be passed but that during the development stage access to the site should not be allowed through Fisher Place and Halliman Way.
Fochabers/Lhanbryde Tory councillor Douglas Ross, however, agreed with the local community council and campaigners that the application should be rejected outright, with the developers asked to negotiate a way of creating an access route to the A941.
The vote was tied 5-5 – with all three local Heldon & Laich Councillors voting for the plan and against their community representations.
Following the meeting the Community Council spokesman said: “On the evening before this hearing we held a meeting of our own at which we reviewed the Community Council position – from that it remained clear that, despite our shared desire to see this housing estate built in Lossiemouth, the access via Halliman Way and Fisher Place was simply the wrong way to go about creating it.
“It was disappointing to us and to the local community that Councillors saw fit by the narrowest of margins to reject our arguments and those of residents.”
John Tulloch emerged from a Hearing that he described as “stressful”, but delighted that his firm had received the backing they needed to go ahead with the development.
Mr Tulloch said: “The last minute condition will make it extremely difficult to develop the first stage but, ultimately, we are able to move on with the project which we are happy about. It has been a long journey but it is good to finally get there.”
One of the leaders of the Stop Boyd Anderson Access campaign, Robert Murdoch, said that they were “very disappointed” at the outcome and the way that the planning department had dealt with the entire issue.
He said: “I think that the concept of Moray Council’s planning department fell apart today. How can they set out a local development plan which they spent two years bringing together, and then just turn it over in this way to approve this development against all the opposition from the people of Lossiemouth.”