Kirk’s controversial Plockton plans to be considered by council

BY LISA FALCONER
lisa.falconer@whfp.co.uk

Plans to build two new homes in Plockton – which would rob the primary school of a playground – will be considered shortly by Highland Council.

The application, submitted by the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland, seeks permission for two semi-detached cottages, an access road, turning area and parking for four vehicles in the garden of the Old Manse. The site is described as “surplus to requirements”. An additional application to take down four metres of stone wall to allow access to the site has also been submitted.

Situated on Innes St, the proposed site is encircled by the church, manse and a wall — all of which were designed by Thomas Telford and are listed buildings sitting within the conservation area of Plockton. The site was previously allocated for housing but this was removed from Highland Council’s local plan in 1999.

The plans are the latest to be submitted by the Trustees of the Church of Scotland for the site, with the  original application submitted in the winter of 2012 seeking permission for four houses. The plans attracted widespread objection and were subsequently dropped.

The current application was submitted to the council in April but due to over 20 public comments, all objecting to the proposals, it will now go before the north planning applications committee. Concerns raised by objectors largly refer to the loss of open space, road safety and access, the impact on the historic buildings, and fears it will become yet another holiday home.

While the Church of Scotland own the garden it has been leased to the Nicolson family – now the JT Nicolson Discretionary Trust, owners of the manse and also part of the glebe land – for over 60 years.  The ground has been used by Plockton Primary School for sports, recreation and environmental studies since 1917 and the community also make use of it for various events. Upkeep of the land is paid for by the Nicolson trust.

Among those objecting are the Plockton Primary School Parent Council, which said “visibility approaching the primary school is already very poor; adding a junction will make this road even more dangerous for children arriving and leaving the school”.