Councillors depart from the plan for 870 homes and sports centre

ONE OF THE LARGEST planning applications ever seen in Moray that will result in a new suburb of Elgin being created has been approved by Councillors today (Tuesday).

Springfield Properties asked for permission to build 870 homes plus a range of community facilities – which will include the new Moray Sports Centre and two new primary schools.

Along with the already approved Elgin South Masterplan the town will see around 2500 homes in total being built with attendant community, leisure and educational facilities. The projects represent a massive change for Elgin with most of the land being used currently of agricultural nature.

Of the 870 homes approved today, 217 have been categorised as ‘affordable’ homes.

The entire application was a departure from the region’s Local Development Plan, and as such it had generated a formal objection from Pitgaveny Estate, who have their own proposals for a development with associated facilities at Findrassie, to the northern outskirts of Elgin.

Pitgaveny has argued that the Springfield application was “premature” saying that application site was designated for potential long-term use beyond 2025. They claimed that 870 houses would flood the market and impact across the whole of Moray by pulling housing demand disproportionately to Elgin and away from other areas.

However, planning officers recommended approval of the application today, with officers insisting that although it represented a “significant departure” from the development plan they believed it was nevertheless an acceptable one. Planning officers believe that the delivery of the plan would aid Moray’s aspiration to contribute to the Scottish Government’s national housing targets.

In their report for consideration today planning officers said: “The associated economic benefits with the related development proposals will help to secure Elgin’s future sustainable economic growth as the primary centre of Moray, acting as a catalyst for further investment.”

However, several councillors said that they had reservations over developer obligations from Springfield, pointing to the £5.6million as being well short of the £13million it will cost to provide improved educational, road and transport infrastructure to the development – and the gap would need to be funded by Moray Council.

A proposal to recover the full cost of those from the developer was defeated when it was pointed out that to do so would make the entire development ‘economically unviable’ for Springfield.

There was, however, a list of 59 conditions placed on the permission that would need to be adhered to by Springfield, covering a wide range of issues associated with their plans.