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Major Meiklefield masterplan for Dingwall sets out vision for 117 new social homes in Ross-shire's county town

By Neil MacPhail

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How we first reported concerns about the scheme - and the growing number of void homes going to waste.
How we first reported concerns about the scheme - and the growing number of void homes going to waste.

A MAJOR house building project for Dingwall has taken a significant step forward.

Highland Council has moved to seeking planning approval in principle (PIP) for its masterplan for the phased demolition then rebuilding of the Meiklefield area near the town centre.

They hope to tear down 114 old homes and replace them with 117 new social housing units set out in an estate where green aspirations will be to the fore including tree-lined streets, an emphasis on cycle and walking routes and grassy open areas.

Every rear garden will have an appropriately scaled garden tree to contribute to the biodiversity of Meiklefield, promises the masterplan which is now under consideration by planners.

The first phase involving numbers 1 to 23, the odd numbers, in Meiklefield Road is well under way, and any lessons learned from this work will be adopted in the bigger project.

The masterplan approval will be another step forward for the project team tasked with creating a modern, accessible, energy efficient and affordable housing estate in place of council houses deemed past their sell-by date.

Demolition under way.
Demolition under way.

The masterplan states: "While much of Meiklefield council housing stock is in poor or deteriorating condition, there are areas of environmental quality and mature trees which will be retained and enhanced where possible.

"The project will sequentially replace identified housing stock and seek to retain /enhance landscape quality.

"The project will seek to pragmatically address both the nature of post Covid life, with an emphasis on greater localism, community engagement and healthy living, and the necessity to work towards a sustainable 'green' environment."

The document adds: "Where possible the overarching principle is to retain distinctive set-piece elements of landscape design such as the crescent of maturing trees at Millcraig Road and Meiklefield Road (Phases 3 and 4 respectively).

Local Highland Council member Graham MacKenzie said: "I welcome this redevelopment fully. I don't think there will be too much argument against this project.

"Meiklefield is a great community but sadly the houses don't match the strengths of this community. Many of the houses are in a bad condition with damp making life unbearable for many.

"The area is 80 yards from the town centre shops, and has good access the schools.

"Consultation is taking place with both the tenants and the house owners, and while a project this size is bound to have problems, let us hope they will not be insurmountable."

When the big redevelopment was announced, local Councillor Margaret Paterson said: “We have watched the area deteriorate over the last few years and although it will be a while before we start building, we are so excited as it will look fantastic.

"Meiklefield Road and Square has always had a caring community and that will not change. It will remain a special place for all the people who enjoyed living there. Some will return when the houses are rebuilt and new families will get the opportunity to live in a great area of Dingwall.”

Related: Demolition well under way at Meiklefield

Janet MacLean gets involved

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