Spean Bridge housing concern
CONCERNS about another potential housing development in Spean Bridge have been voiced at a community council meeting.
A proposal to build 10 houses, including two affordable ones, and a farm shop and cafe north west of Mehalah, Tirindrish, Spean Bridge, has been submitted to the Highland Council.
But there was apprehension from members of Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge and Achnacarry community council and members of the public at the meeting where the plans were discussed last week.
The 644-square metre farm shop was the main cause for concern because of its size and the ‘green metal external cladding’.
At the meeting, Philip Dart noted that while the application states the houses are going to fit with the appearance of the village, it also says the farm shop is to be made of corrugated iron.
He said: ‘ It’s meant to be a farm shop but it sounds more like B&Q. Corrugated iron is not conducive to a café and farm shop, it’s more like a barn.
‘ I have questions about the viability of a farm shop in the village. And what will become of that building if it ceases to be farm shop because I would hate to see it used as anything else.’
Developer of the site, Ross MacGregor, responded saying: ‘ We do have plans for this farm shop. It’s not going to be a disaster, it will be a success.
‘ We want to work with the community council, the public and the council.
‘ Is it not a positive thing that we can bring more people here and that more people will want to stay here?’
The community council also noted that a 1.8 metre high timber fence surrounding the development is ‘not in-keeping with either surrounding properties’ and will ‘diminish the visual appearance of the development’.
Council chairman John Fotheringham added that the vil- lage’s primary school is already at full capacity.
In a letter to the Highland Council, the community council said: ‘It is forecast that Spean Bridge Primary School is likely to exceed its current capacity by 23 per cent in the next decade.
‘Continuing development such as this proposal will put a further strain on the school roll, and any building upgrade will need significant investment from Highland Council.’
The Highlands and Islands Local Development Plan states the site has a housing capacity for eight units, and it was questioned why the developer has submitted plans that includes 10.
However news of two semi- detached affordable homes was welcomed by Mr Fotheringham who said the village needs smaller houses, under the £200,000 price tag, to attract young people to stay in the area.
The community council has said it is not against development of the site in principle, but ‘cannot support the current application in its present form’.