New group is formed to save park

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There are concerns that the bicycle park could be included within the development area. Picture: Eilidh Anderson
There are concerns that the bicycle park could be included within the development area. Picture: Eilidh Anderson

DRAWINGS for a development on the site of a former Fort William school have been redrafted after more than 70 people attended a public consultation and made their opinions heard, writes Monica Gibson.
Plans for a new 70-home development to be built on the site of Lochyside Primary School were revealed to residents last week.
The Highland Council and Lochaber Housing Association (LHA) are behind the project for which an artist’s impression and information was displayed in Caol Community Centre from Thursday September 29.
Despite a pressing need for
affordable homes in the area, the scheme has raised some concerns.
The council told The Oban Times the main three areas for comments were whether a bus shelter would be kept at the entrance to the site, concern in relation to the secondary exit into Castle Drive and that the bike park was included within the development area.
Carol Gosling, who lives in Castle Drive, said while residents knew the school was earmarked for development, in previous consultations the park had not been included.
She added: ‘The local development plan just ring-fenced the actual site of the school. But when the council put the new plans up they crossed through the park which we were quite dismayed about.
‘The developer, acting on the council’s information, has included an access road through the play area which would annihilate any safe area to play on.
‘We have been told there needs to be two access roads because of the flood risk but we are unsure about that because all the other developments on Lochyside only have one.’
Carol, who has two young boys, has joined other families from the area to start a campaign to ‘save our park’ and has created a Facebook page to raise awareness.
She said: ‘My boys have not taken it too well about the proposals. They are very fond of that park. It has been something which the whole community have come together to look at.
‘We want the area to stay as the quiet little cul-de-sac it is and not become just a through-road.
‘We’ve even been contacted by people from farther afield who used to live here and they remember how it was and have shown their support.’
A spokesperson from the Highland Council said the updated drawings reflected the comments already received and that the plans could change again based on the reactions received.
She added: ‘We are very much in the consultation stage and welcome any comments from individuals and groups about the outlined proposals for the redevelopment of the site as this forms part of the conversation under way with the community which we want to have.
‘The public drop-in event held last week was well attended and an exhibition is still running in the community centre this week so people can look at the proposals and pass on their views, comments and suggestions.
‘A planning application is likely to be submitted sometime in November and then there will be a further period of public consultation where comments can be submitted. In the meantime, we welcome comments and they can be submitted to our planning service or to our housing team via john.McHardy@highland.gov.uk.’