Sixty new homes and big cash boost for Lochy­side

The Oban Times - - Lochaber Times - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­

SIXTY new homes in Lochy­side will come with a £ 60,000 boost which could be used for a new in­door train­ing and com­mu­nity cen­tre.

The Lochy­side de­vel­op­ment was ap­proved at the High­land Coun­cil’s south plan­ning com­mit­tee when it met on Tues­day.

It could see the build­ing of a new in­door train­ing and com­mu­nity cen­tre next to Lochaber High School - thanks to de­vel­oper con­tri­bu­tions, which the coun­cil seeks for new de­vel­op­ments of four or more houses where ap­pro­pri­ate.

A con­tri­bu­tion of £1,000 per house to­wards com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties will be given in this in­stance, mean­ing £60,000 will be se­cured to­wards a com­mu­nity project.

Ben Thomp­son, Caol and Mal­laig coun­cil­lor, told the

Lochaber Times af­ter the meet­ing that care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion needed to be given to what the money was spent on.

‘When this de­vel­op­ment was be­ing looked at, the coun­cil iden­ti­fied what there was a short­age of in Lochaber and at that time huge ef­forts had been made to get fund­ing for an in­door fa­cil­ity,’ he said. ‘How­ever, that plan was writ­ten about five or six years ago, and we are in the process of get­ting a new one writ­ten, plus we have new coun­cil­lors now, so I tried to stress to the coun­cil that plans for th­ese funds should not be too spe­cific, be­cause things change.’

An­drew Bax­ter, Fort Wil­liam and Ard­na­mur­chan coun­cil­lor, also stressed that should the plans for an in­door sports fa­cil­ity not go ahead, the com­mu­nity would still have the money to be spent else­where.

The ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the 60 homes was also dis­cussed. Ear­lier this year, Lochaber Dis­abil­ity Ac­cess Panel told the Lochaber

Times it had for­mally ob­jected to the ap­pli­ca­tion and has em­pha­sised its dis­ap­point­ment that no rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the agents, Bracewell Stir­ling, had come to meet mem­bers of the panel.

Plan­ning of­fi­cer Su­san MacMil­lan told the meet­ing on Tues­day that, while the panel has not for­mally re­moved its ob­jec­tion, mem­bers have since met with the agents, who said as many prop­er­ties as pos­si­ble will be wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble.

Ms MacMil­lan said they will be flex­i­ble to meet the needs of the peo­ple who are liv­ing there, once the homes have been al­lo­cated.

Mr Bax­ter said he thought the build­ings were ‘ very grey’ and lacked a bit of colour.

He said: ‘Did the ar­chi­tects lose their crayons when draw­ing up the plans be­cause it’s very grey? I don’t know if that was to blend in with the rain and weather of Lochaber though.’

Ms MacMil­lan re­sponded by say­ing the homes are a mix­ture of white and beige. ‘ We have a con­di­tion in the plan­ning to agree and fi­nalise the colour and I am sure they [the ar­chi­tects] would be happy to look at some colour.’

Mr Thomp­son said the de­vel­op­ment would have been ‘bet­ter with more three-bed­room houses’. He said: ‘In the re­port, it says the mix of units has been in­formed by the High­land Coun­cil hous­ing reg­is­ter. I think it as­sumes peo­ple are mov­ing out of three- and four-bed­room homes into two-bed­room ones, but that doesn’t hap­pen as quickly as we would like it to.’

John Gille­spie, vice chair­man of Caol Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, told the Lochaber Times: ‘We are pleased to see that the de­vel­op­ment has been passed, es­pe­cially with many of the changes which were made on the feed­back from lo­cal res­i­dents.

‘Hope­fully, this level of com­mu­ni­ca­tion will con­tinue as the de­vel­op­ment pro­gresses.’

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