REVAMPED plans for a £4 million care home in Fortrose have been unveiled to local residents.
Independent care home provider Parklands plans to build a 40-bed care home close to the centre of Fortrose, which it stresses is the Black Isle’s largest centre of population, its main service centre and the community with the highest proportion of elderly people.
The planned facility "has been entirely redesigned" to reflect its rural setting. It will feature several wings built in the style of a farm steading, says the would-be developer. The 40 ensuite bedrooms will be "substantially larger" than the national standard set by the Care Inspectorate.
The care home would employ 50 full-time equivalent staff, generating, says Parklands, around £1 million for the local economy.
As before, Parklands has committed to a 50/50 split between private and NHS funded residents.
Speaking at a community meeting in Fortrose, Ron Taylor, managing director of Parklands, said: "The Black Isle care crisis has been well documented. The area has a substantial and growing elderly population but the provision of care has not kept pace. Care groups across the region have warned of a mounting crisis. Parklands has the means and the will to tackle it.
"We have considered multiple sites across the Black Isle. They were too small, too remote, already the subject of a planning application or earmarked for housing. We need a site that is available and affordable, has sufficient capacity and infrastructure services, and is close to the main population centre and local health and community services and transport links.
"In our analysis, that means Ness Road in Fortrose is the only appropriate location.
"Our investment is consistent with the objectives of the Highland-wide local development plan which makes it clear that where a need is identified, the area local development plan should make provision for accommodation for an ageing population.
"However, the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan makes no provision for a care home in Fortrose. As a result, it does not meet a pressing social need and, in our view, it must be revisited.
"I am urging everyone who supports our vision to engage their local councillors, council candidates, MPs and MSPs. We have invested a lot of time and money in these proposals. This is the only suitable site for us, the only site we are prepared to invest in. That means this is our last throw of the dice. There is no plan b.
"However, with the support of local people, I hope we can deliver a new vision of care for older people in the Black Isle. We all know it’s long overdue."
The proposal has divided opinion with opponents saying the local plan should be respected and that several other sites on the Black Isle are, in fact, available.
Supporters say there's a huge need for a care home and that planning policies can and should be revisited.
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