Homes planned for proposed Coul Links golf course

Homes planned for proposed Coul Links golf course

A Highland landowner has pledged to build “much needed” homes to help tackle depopulation if a controversial golf course is allowed to go ahead.

Edward Abel Smith said he intends to create 30 new homes near the site of the proposed Coul Links course in Sutherland.

He said half of the homes would be sold with covenants to ensure “they are not turned into holiday lets”.

A planning application by Dornoch-based community group Communities for Coul (C4C) for the golf course was approved by Highland Council in December.

A final decision on the plans now rests with ministers in Holyrood after they were called in by the Scottish Government amid environmental concerns raised by Naturescot.

Mr Abel Smith, the third generation of his family to own Coul Farm, is in ongoing discussions with the council and representatives of the Embo community over his proposals to build 30 new homes and establish three crofts on the farmland.

He told The Herald: “The continuing loss of working-age population is the greatest problem facing East Sutherland. A chronic lack of both affordable housing and good employment opportunities is at the core of that growing crisis.

“Half of the new houses we are planning will be affordable homes and they will be sold with covenants to ensure they remain affordable in the long-term and are not turned into holiday lets.

“Similarly, the new crofts will not have a right to buy, ensuring that they will continue to provide homes and land for crofters into the future.

“We believe that the hundreds of job opportunities that the Coul Links golf course will create and the new housing options we want to be able to offer can play a significant part in changing the long-term fortunes of the area.

“That can only happen if Scottish ministers decide, as Highland Council has already twice done, to approve the development of a golf course at Coul Links.”

Mr Abel Smith is also planning to build an eco-hotel if the development gets the go-ahead.

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