New group aims to revamp Upper Achintore

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A new group has been formed in the hope of rejuvenating the Upper Achintore area of Fort William.

Members of the newly constituted Upper Achintore Regeneration Group (UARG), formerly the Lundavra Community Area Group, met on Monday night at Lundavra Primary School for what was the inaugural meeting of the revamped residents’ association.

Top of the priority list for the committee is to ‘tidy the place up’, while continuing the previous work undertaken by the area group in building a five-a-side football pitch behind Ross Place, monitoring plans for the former Upper Achintore Primary School site and improving the path network in the area.

‘We just want to make the place a bit tidier, and make people feel a bit better about living here again,’ said chairman Mark Linfield.

However, under the new guise, members plan to tackle some bigger issues.

A ‘major concern’ is the distribution of developer contributions from upcoming major construction projects in the area, such as the 325-house development below Cow Hill.

The group wants to ensure that funds raised from these major developments are spent within the local community and not siphoned into a Lochaber-wide pot.

Before the meeting on Monday, Mr Linfield said: ‘We have major concerns that the developer’s contribution income from the Cow Hill site will be used outwith our area. This is unacceptable.

‘Our community will have the impact of this huge development so it should also have the benefits. We need to urgently improve the physical environment of the existing area – particularly in the 1970s council estate.’

Members discussed the upcoming FW2040 refresher event on Wednesday September 25 which will give the group a chance to make their voice heard.

Mr Linfield continued: ‘The FW2040 event is going to show us where this money is going to be spent. We need to make it our mission to keep that money in Upper Achintore.’

Highland Council’s policy is that money raised through developers’ contributions for large-scale projects can be put towards any project in the catchment area of the local high school.

People at the meeting pointed out that this rule does not take into account rural areas and Lochaber High School’s catchment area is particularly large.

‘Now we are a residents’ association, we have to push towards having a project that we want the money spent on here,’ Mr Linfield added.

UARG takes in the Upper Achintore area with a southern boundary of Argyll Terrace and Grange Road up the hill to Iona Court and over to the cattle grid at the top of Lundavra Road. It has a catchment area of between 600 and 700 residents, which could grow to around 1,000 in the near future once the Cow Hill development is completed.

The group’s next meeting is on October 7 at 5.45pm at Lundavra Primary School.