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Moray Council's 15-year local development vision gets government approval

By Lorna Thompson

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MORAY Council’s 15-year vision for local development has been approved by the Scottish Government.

The council’s proposed Local Development Plan sets out priority growth areas for housing, taking account of factors including low-carbon sustainable development and healthcare infrastructure.

Unresolved objections on the plan – covering housing settlements, employment land, rural housing, environment and renewable energy – were considered by the government’s planning reporter in a report published yesterday.

More than 600 comments by developers, residents and public sector organisations, including the NHS, were made during public consultation on the plan.

Each year between 2018-35, 318 homes need to be built to keep up with demand in Moray, with land for an additional 414 required annually.

Elgin, Buckie and Forres will continue to be the areas with the highest number of residents. Further growth is expected in Aberlour and Fochabers.

Moray Council’s proposed Local Development Plan, which sets out priority growth areas for housing, has been approved by the Scottish Government.
Moray Council’s proposed Local Development Plan, which sets out priority growth areas for housing, has been approved by the Scottish Government.

Under the plan, the council will address a lack of suitable housing sites in Keith and Speyside, while safeguarding smaller towns and villages from development where there is limited opportunity for growth because of issues including infrastructure or protecting its character.

In Lossiemouth, Keith, Aberlour and Fochabers, the focus will be on delivering housing in sites which have already been identified.

Hopeman has reached the limits of its physical growth, the council says. No further development beyond the identified sites at Manse Road and the homes being built at Forsyth Street in Hopeman will be supported by the council. The Scottish Government backed this, saying it does not recommend Hopeman is included as a tertiary growth area.

This means the site for 75 homes sought by Springfield Properties for land south of Forsyth Street in Hopeman will not be included in the Local Development Plan – and will be rejected for the third time.

The planning reporter said in the report: "The Spatial Strategy takes account of the characteristics of Moray’s population, it directs development towards specific settlements based on their size, location and the availability of services, facilities and infrastructure. It seeks to respond to current and anticipated challenges in the provision of services and infrastructure. It also takes cognisance of past patterns of growth, future opportunities and constraints. I consider that the council is best placed to have knowledge of local circumstances in relation to those matters.

"I am content that the Spatial Strategy is consistent with SPP (Scottish Planning Policy) as it promotes a settlement hierarchy based on sustainable patterns of development, sustainable rural communities and reduced reliance on private car usage and is tailored to local circumstances."

The council’s strategic planning and development manager, Gary Templeton, said: "A great deal of work has gone into creating this vision for Moray’s future, anticipating and designing places which will meet the needs of future generations.

"I’m confident what we have proposed will mean current and future residents of Moray can enjoy the benefits of sustainable, modern developments."

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