Auchtertyre housing plans backed, despite opposition from west coast councillors

The school at Auchtertyre

Highland Councillors have recommended in principle plans for a new 38 house development in a Lochalsh village.

There were local fears over scale, flood-risk and the loss of school ground over the plans for Auchtertyre.

Private landowners Lochalsh Estates Limited submitted a masterplan for the houses on a five-hectare site beside the village’s primary school.

At today’s meeting of the north planning applications committee local councillor Biz Campbell described the development as “alarming” and voiced her opposition.

She told the meeting, held online, that she had been inundated with emails from concerned residents and parents.

“People were surprised to learn the consultation process was over,” she added.

Councillor Campbell said granting the application would mean that “much of fantastic outdoor space at the school will be gone”.

Councillor Campbell proposed the planning refusal on the grounds that the application contravened the council’s policy on growing settlements.

Biz Campbell objected

Councillor Derek MacLeod shared his colleague’s concern over access and parking arrangements.

Skye councillors John Gordon and Calum Macleod also supported Councillor Campbell, but the proposal to grant approval was backed by 9 votes to 6.

The community councils of Lochalsh and Dornie, as well as several local households, objected to the scheme.

Highland Council’s education department withdrew its earlier concerns after the applicants promised to compensate the local authority for the loss of land.

Part of planning consent covers land owned by the council.

The developer has committed to a contribution towards a future upgrade of the school.

The council’s acting head of development Erica MacArthur said today’s decision was to decide planning merits only, and that compensation for land would be “a separate negotiation and process”.

Auchtertyre pupils had written to object to the loss of their playground.

A public meeting to allow residents to have their say was scheduled on 23rd March, only to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Councillor Campbell said a decision should not have been made without a rescheduled public meeting.

Council planners have said any development on the site would be subject to a section 75 agreement, stipulating that at least 25 per cent of the houses must be classed as “affordable”.

The developer would also have to pay £2,600 per unit towards upgrading school accommodation.

A previous attempt for a 30-house scheme on the same site was refused in 1998.