Concern at Plockton house project

The house has been empty for several years. Picture: Google

Concerns have been expressed in Plockton over plans by Highland Council to build new homes on the site of the former janitor’s house.

The council hopes to demolish the existing property at the entrance to Plockton High School and replace it with a terrace of three dwelling houses and six parking bays.

Plockton has huge housing pressures and the council along with housing agencies have been striving to identify suitable sites for development.

However, people have raised concerns about over-development of the site, the loss of mature trees and the safety of schoolchildren at what is already a very congested spot.

While not objecting, Plockton High headteacher Jo Scott-Moncrieff had worries about the access for the new housing being shared with the school.

She said: “The proposed development is immediately adjacent to the school and the existing access over the cattle grid would be insufficient for the requirements of both the school and the three residential buildings proposed.

“Specifically: the area proposed for car parking at the proposed development is already a congested area for traffic, particularly at busy times around the start and end of the school day.

“The parking area for the school needs to be accessible at all times both for regular school traffic and for emergency vehicles in the event of an incident.

“A preferable approach would be to create a second access point from the main road to the school staff and visitor car park so that the school continues to have a dedicated access.”

Highland Council’s own service for Plockton High School also believed there should be separate entrances and gated secured school access for the safety of pupils, staff and visitors.

Neighbour Duncan J MacLennan, of 1 Station Cottages, objected to the application and to the removal of trees which helped screen his property.

“These plans show scant regard for neighbours’ privacy – we are to be completely overlooked,” said Mr MacLennan, whose family has occupied Station Cottages for 100 years.

“The trees are perfectly healthy, as recorded in your tree expert’s report, and their removal would be environmentally criminal.

“It appears that every effort is being made to ‘shoehorn’ housing into a site for which it is inappropriate. I have every sympathy for the homeless in the area and the need for affordable housing, but would point out that the house to be demolished has lain vacant for over six and a half years since the retiral of the previous janitor.”

Alasdair Burt, of 2 Station Cottages, stressed he was not objecting to the principle of housing being built on this site, but to the proposal to squeeze a two-storey building of three houses onto a confined site.

Mr Burt said: “It appears that in order to accommodate three dwellings within this site that no thought has been given to the impact that the bulk, height and position will have on the neighbouring 130-year-old houses.”

He added: “When the development of this property/site was mooted, we were led to believe that any new dwellings would be for service workers such as NHS staff, police, education etc as it was very hard to attract applicants to the area because of the lack of affordable housing. However we have since learned this is not the case and that any person in need of social housing would be allocated a home on this development.”

He wanted to see the allocation of the properties protected through a local lettings plan to respond to local housing need and demand.

The council’s transport planning team says it has been unable to offer a view on the application as the council has not provided enough information.

It has asked the council to give more detail on the size of parking bays and reversing aisle, and proposed pedestrian routes, among other issues.

The application is currently being considered by the council’s planning services.