Unanimous refusal for Moray affordable homes overturned by Scottish Government

The site of the proposed development at Hopeman

The Scottish Government had overturned a decision from Moray Council to block plans to build 22 affordable houses on the south side of Hopeman.

Springfield Properties submitted its application for the building of affordable flats and houses on Forsyth Street in November 2016.

But members of the local authority’s planning & regulatory services committee upheld planning officers’ recommendation to unanimously refuse permission last October.

A report to councillors last year stated that the size and scale of the proposal did not reflect the settlement pattern, failed to integrate into the surrounding area and would be detrimental to the existing open character and identity of Forsyth Street and Hopeman.

The application received four representations of support but 254 objections, mainly from local residents raising concerns about the siting and design of the homes and arguing that any approval would act as a precedent for larger developments.

Chair of the committee at the time, Councillor Wilson, said that “although the need for more affordable housing in Moray is recognised, the council felt this development fell outside the current planning guidelines”.

In his findings, Scottish Government reporter Philip Barton said he could not make a decision based on potential developments – but stressed his decision should not be considered a “precedent”.

Mr Barton disagreed with the council’s decision the houses would not fit the character of the area but added an extra condition to ensure all the homes could be classed as “affordable”.

He said: “The unique circumstances of this case include the contribution that the proposal would make towards addressing an urgent unmet need for affordable housing across the Elgin housing market area.”

Springfield insisted the houses are essential to prevent people from being forced to relocate due to the high cost of living in their hometown.

A spokesperson said: “We are delighted with this outcome. In taking his unemotional, impartial view of this proposal The Reporter has shown it for what it is, the sensible provision of twenty two affordable homes where they are needed. Twenty two families that would have had to permanently relocate will now be able to stay local and live in Hopeman.

“More affordable housing is much needed across the whole country. It is painful to see locals forced to move out because they cannot afford to live where they are from.

“Regarding any future development in Hopeman, we’re currently involved in identifying potential site allocation as part of the ongoing Moray Local Plan Review.”

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