Lochyside developers respond to disability panel’s concerns
DEVELOPERS of Lochyside housing, Bracewell Stirling Consulting, have been in touch with the Lochaber Times in response to concerns raised by the Lochaber Disability Access Panel.
The panel highlighted worries, as set out in the Lochaber Times last Thursday (April 27), about the accessibility of the proposed 60-home development on the former Lochyside development.
Partner Amanda MacRitchie said: ‘ We were contacted by the panel to meet when the application was lodged.
‘From the comments submitted, we took the view that the issues raised were adequately addressed by the statement attached, along with some alterations to the design which were lodged on March 10 on the planning portal.
‘We have wide-ranging experience in providing housing for particular needs. We were satisfied that provision within the proposals for end-users with varying disabilities and needs is in excess of statutory requirements and suitable flexibility built in to the designs to allow for further adaptation to cater for particular needs of individuals, when the occupiers of the houses are allocated.
‘ We are extremely disappointed that if there are still concerns which the panel feel have not been addressed, that they have not contacted us following March 10 or made further comment through the planning portal, thus we are unaware of any remaining concerns from the panel.
‘We communicate regularly with the community and indi- viduals regarding the proposals. We are happy to meet the panel should they still have concerns and wish to do so.’
But angered panel members rebutted the claims, saying that they had not had contact with the agents since February, despite several changes being made to the planning application since.
Arthur Cowie from the panel said: ‘I called them [on February 16] and was told that under no circumstance they were coming to meet with us.
‘They have been non-responsive to requests to meet despite us asking Bracewell to discuss a meeting with the Highlands Small Community Housing Trust and Lochaber Housing Association.’
Caol Community Council vice chairman John Gillespie said Ms MacRitchie attended three community council meetings and listened to what people had to say about amendments to plans. But recently there had been a ‘breakdown in communication’ between the community and the architects following several changes to the plans, which the community council had not been consulted on.
Mr Gillespie said: ‘Bracewell has been good and sent a representative who has attended three meetings. But recently there has been a breakdown in communication. We will be asking them to attend our next meeting in May.’
Panel member Colin MacDonald said: ‘We need to make sure we build houses that are fit for purpose in 50 years’ time. Once the demolition of the school is finished they are going to want to start building right away and we still haven’t met with them. Let’s do it once and get it right first time.’