Highland Council's dispute with Tesco resolved

By Andrew Thomson
BBC Scotland

image captionTesco has a store near to the new Inverness West Link road

A dispute between Highland Council and Tesco over developer contributions towards the Inverness West Link has been resolved.

Tesco, which has a store near the road, has contributed more than £335,000.

Highland Council had initially refused to reveal the dispute's outcome "for reasons of commercial confidentiality".

The details emerged after BBC Scotland submitted a freedom of information request and then contacted the Information Commissioner.

Highlands and Islands Green MSP, John Finnie, said he was disappointed Highland Council had sought to keep the information confidential.

He hopes to make amendments to a Planning Bill that is being considered in the Scottish Parliament to make the planning system more open and transparent about developer contributions.

Mr Finnie said: "Openness and transparency is not there at the moment and there is the potential that hard-pressed local authorities are missing out on significant sums of money.

"I hope to take advantage of the ongoing review of planning legislation to change this so this all out in the open. There shouldn't be any secrets about this."

image captionIn 2013, lawyers for Tesco said delays opening the West Link were affecting its Ness-side store

Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson said the local authority had not tried to be secretive.

She said: "We were in court for a while with Tesco so there would have been no discussion of the situation at this stage.

"I honestly don't think it is too secret.

"Developers by and large are pretty good at paying planning gain. They realise that they have got a duty to help pay for things like roads and schools."

Tesco has declined to comment.

The chain's supermarket at Ness-side lies next to the £55m Inverness West Link road, the first phase of which was opened in December.

In 2013, lawyers for Tesco said delays to opening the road had caused the value of the store to fall "very substantially".

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