Inverness new town plans given green light
A bid to build a new town to the east of Inverness has cleared its first hurdle.
Highland Council gave outline planning permission for a major development on Stratton Farm, close to the A96.
The £500m development will see about 2,500 houses built over the next 20 years, as well as shops, restaurants and schools.
Objectors said it should not even have been considered while a region-wide plan was still being discussed.
Developers Inverness Estates said it was a major boost for the Scottish economy, with more than 2,000 jobs likely to be created.
Councillors voted 38 to 10 to give outline permission but with 62 separate conditions attached.
The plans for the 195-acre greenfield site include 2,500 new homes - more than 600 of them affordable houses - as well as schools, a leisure centre, a library, offices, shops, restaurants and an 80-bedroom hotel.
Permission in principle was granted at a special meeting in Inverness.
The first of four building stages is due to begin next year.
Inverness Estates property developer Mark Shaw said: "A project of this magnitude is bound to attract some concern but I am very pleased that the council and the vast majority in the wider community have appreciated the huge benefits that this will bring to the Inverness area.
"It has been a long and often arduous road to get to even this stage but we have always believed in the project and our commitment to it has never wavered."
He added: "The economic and social benefits that this development can deliver will be especially important at a time when the impact of the recession is still being felt hard, major public sector cutbacks are round the corner and many jobs will simply disappear."
The first phase will include 300 houses - 75 of which will be affordable properties - and the hotel.
The houses will be a mixture of one, two and three storey residences.
The first phase will also include the central hub on Barn Church Road, including a superstore.
There will be a park-and-ride facility serving Inverness, with spaces for 500 cars, a health centre, church, offices and shops.
A new school will be built to serve families in the first phase homes.
A second primary and possibly a secondary school will be built during later phases of the development.