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Evanton homes go-ahead will help many local people, Cromarty Firth ward councillor says as building plans approved by Highland Council

By Philip Murray

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Evanton is poised for expansion.
Evanton is poised for expansion.

MOVES to build dozens of homes in Evanton "will help many local people", a ward councillor believes.

Maxine Smith, who represents the Cromarty Firth ward in which Evanton sits, was speaking after plans for 140 new homes were approved last week. Forty of the homes, which would be "affordable housing units", are expected to be built first, with further houses being erected across the project's seven construction phases.

"It’s exciting for Evanton that the village can get more housing of all types," said Cllr Smith. "It’s been a long time since it’s had social housing built new. These homes will be fit for modern living and will help many local people. There’ll also be other facilities which will be looked after such as a decent playpark."

She added: "It’s certainly good news for the area."

The finished 140-home estate will feature a mix of semi-detached houses, semi-detached bungalows, and flats ­– with the properties being made up of a mix of one, two and three bedroom options.

Construction on the site will not be allowed until a plan outlining details of the phasing is submitted and approved. Phase two ­– and subsequent phases – will not be allowed to proceed until detailed building and location plans for these later developments are submitted and given the green light.

Highland Council said that only two objections were received to the overall project, with a third letter providing a neutral stance.

Concerns raised included increased traffic and safety concerns over the impact of additional cars on existing streets. Worries over impacts on privacy and wildlife were also flagged up.

However, council planning officers added that Kiltearn Community Council did not object to the proposals and that it had welcomed the new housing "to meet the growing needs of the community".

However the community body did call for improvements to existing parking and roads, as well as a 20mph speed limit in the centre of the village.

Highland Council's transport planning officers did not object to the housing and, while acknowledging that traffic "will increase substantially" on Hermitage Street, Chapel Road and "to a lesser extent on Livera Street", they were "satisfied that the junction and link capacities are not exceeded".

The new estate will be accessed from two roads. The main one will be off Hermitage Street where it becomes Swordale Road, while a secondary access is planned off Thomas MacIver Street – the latter of which won't be created until phase four of construction.

A number of traffic measures are planned to tackle the increased population – including a a 20mph speed limit and a "convoluted route" running between Thomas MacIver Street and Swordale Road in order to prevent the estate becoming a rat run for motorists.

Further conditions attached to the project include the planting of native woodland to replace the non-native Sitka spruce which will be felled to make way for the housing.

Council officers added that although "a bridge crossing providing a link to Drummond Road over the River Sgitheach is a developer requirement for this site" a bridge is not part of the proposal. They added: "If a bridge link is not delivered, significant active travel improvements toward the primary school will be required".

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