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Planning For Expansion Inverness And Nairn

16th November 2006

Preferred Options for A96 Corridor

At the Planning and Development Committee on Wednesday 15th November Highland councillors gave their approval to the preferred Framework Plans for Nairn and East Inverness which will see a notable rise in the future population in these areas as well as an increase in economic growth and community amenities.

The choice of the preferred plans follows the analysis of responses gathered during a period of public consultation which drew a high level of interest and response from members of the public as well as other agencies and stakeholders.

A paper presented to the committee laid out the key points of the preferred options. For East Inverness this includes the creation of a new Inverness College/UHI campus with pedestrian and rail links spanning into the city and an Innovation Park for spin-off businesses and high growth technology as well as a major regional sports complex situated at East Beechwood. A new Town Centre and Town Park also feature in the proposals. Planners project the future population of this area of the city to rise to 7,000 with 3,300 new housing units and the creation of at least 3,500 jobs.

Councillors were told that the preferred option for Nairn will reinstate the town as a desirable place for people to live and work in by creating a strong economic base. Other proposals include major recreational facilities centred on the river and a third golf course on the Delnies land to the West. The proposed A96 bypass will enable a direct link for future developments at South Nairn and Delnies. Two intermediate junctions are proposed on the new bypass where it crosses the Cawdor Road and A939 Grantown route. A number of business and industrial areas are identified, principally in the Balmakeith area. Plans for the town will lead to a long term population increase of 9,000, an additional 4,300 homes and the creation of at least 4,500 jobs.

Despite these proposed development, Members were reassurred that the bulk of the A96 Corridor will remain as green space which can be enhanced to offer exciting new leisure opportunities with improved public access.

The Council will now press ahead and the preferred plans will form the basis for the remaining infrastructure, programming and developer contribution investigations by the consultants.

Director of Planning and Development, John Rennilson said: "When we took the various options out for public consultation we received a high level of interest and responses. From this exercise the preferred options have emerged so we can now move on to the next stage which is to work with our consultants to ensure that suitable infrastructure can be put in place before developing plans further."

A further report to update Members on progress made will be presented at a meeting of the Planning Development, Europe and Tourism Committee on Wednesday 31 January. At this meeting Members will be asked to approve a further round of public consultation together with referral to statutory bodies and other stakeholders.