Since August 2015, when the major application to build 50 homes on the Greenside Farm site in Rosemarkie was lodged by Paterson estates, until the granting of the application, FRCC worked with local residents and the wider community to oppose it. The overriding reasons for the Community Council’s objection were the lack of infrastructure to support continued large-scale house building in the area, the immediate dangers from yet more traffic passing through Fortrose and Rosemarkie High Streets and the ever-increasing concerns regarding the safety of the A9/B9161 Munlochy Junction. Local residents, particularly those in Courthill Road and close to the site access have more immediate concerns such as the danger of flooding and the lack of a safe pedestrian route to Rosemarkie centre.
Both before and after the determination of the application earlier this year, FRCC held regular meetings with Courthill Road residents and other interested parties. The purpose of these meeting was to coordinate the community’s concerns regarding misleading statements in developer submissions and inaccurate assumptions in consultee responses. As a consequence, FRCC send no fewer than 13 separate letters to Highland Council, many containing detailed technical analyses with much of the site specific and other information coming from local people. These letters together with the very limited response (4 replies) from the Highland Council and other relevant documents have all been filed on the FRCC website in the “Greenside” folder. In addition, there was separate correspondence between Rosemarkie locals and the Highland Council. Many of the letters from FRCC to the Highland Council were in the form of a consultation response and these received no response from the planning department. (The planners are required to take note of consultation responses but are not obliged to respond). Concerns raised in other letters and in those sent by local persons were simply dismissed.
After the Greenside application had been approved by the Northern Planning Applications Committee (NPAC), FRCC and local residents met and agreed that there appeared to be a significant developer bias in the presentation made by the planners to the NPAC. Errors and misleading statements in the planning report had been drawn to the attention of the planners but remained in the planning report issued to Committee members and in the presentation made to the NPAC. In consequence, a formal complaint was made to the Highland Council. Whilst this complaint cannot lead to a reversal of the decision to permit the development at Greenside Farm it is felt important to establish whether the application was processed fairly and to ensure that planning procedures are followed correctly in future major applications.
On completion of the Highland Council complaints procedure there was no resolution and the Community Council has no further formal means of pursuing the complaint. The Highland Council advised FRCC that if it was not satisfied with the Highland Council’s response it should contact the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman (SPSO) despite knowing that the relevant legislation expressly forbids Community Councils from making such representation. Complaints to the SPSO can only be made by individuals and it is likely that such a complaint will be lodged by a Rosemarkie resident in the near future.
In the meantime, FRCC has held a closed meeting with the recently appointed Chair of the NPAC , Ward Councillors and representatives of other Black Isle Community Councils to discuss the procedural failings of the planning process in respect of the Greenside and other applications.
A register of documents is available at documents/miscellaneous/greenside-register.xlsx
Links within this document give access to the individual items.