Download and print this letter here: HAPPL Consultation Letter
Residents of Inverness
As you may be aware our campaign group was formed when we learnt of the possibility of a new prison planned for Inverness being located at the entrance to the city on the same access as the slip road for Culloden Battlefield, Cawdor Castle and adjacent to the Tourist Information Centre as you arrive at the city. It is also going to be directly opposite a thriving and expanding major housing development, MOL Primary School and Scotland’s Housing Expo. It is a wholly ludicrous and inappropriate location.
It was not zoned as such in the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan 2015 (IMFLDP) nor was it referred to in the legally required consultation in this regard. We have written to our MP, MSP’s, local councillors and officials and have had extensive media coverage. We held a packed public meeting with not one hand raised in support of the potential location. In 2009 The Scottish Prison Service carried out a review of 12 potential areas in Inverness which they asked Highland Council to consider. Only one of these was referred to in the consultation process with no site being approved for inclusion in the IMFLDP. Their own Drivers Jonas Assessment Document found that the MOL site failed their very specific criteria and yet they are now pursuing. We are awaiting a response from the SPS CEO for a requested pause in the process following a meeting at the Scottish Parliament with him and Fergus Ewing MSP.
In respect of the immediate area adjacent to the proposed site, The Scottish Government Planning Advice Note, PAN 83, Masterplanning, September 2008, Rob Cowan comments:
“It will be a showpiece of urban design, presenting a form of layout very different to Scottish house-builders’ standard models. There are very few imaginative, alternative models of new residential development to be seen in Scotland, or indeed in the UK, so this will fill a real gap. The degree of thought that has gone into the masterplan has been high…”
We propose the following draft timetable and actions:
- We continue to hold our elected members to account from Highland Council to the Scottish Parliament; they have a duty to represent us, please keep emailing, writing, calling and networking.
We attend the second consultation meeting on the 28th of June and continue to reinforce that we do not accept their ideology that Milton of Leys is an appropriate site for all of the reasons they themselves published in their own Drivers Jonas Assessment and everything we have previously outlined through the media, on our Facebook and our Website.
- The core group will meet with our Planning Consultant to discuss our material consideration objections for any potential future planning application and to agree appropriate responses on the Colliers/SPS pre-planning consultations.
- Assuming this proposal gets to the planning stage (likely to be submitted early July 2016) we will host a public meeting/workshop to assist individuals to write material consideration objections to the proposal.
- On the day of the planning application hearing (27th September 2016, 8th November 2016 or 13th December 2016) we will hold a peaceful PROTEST outside Highland Council Offices to have our voices heard and will attend the meeting in the public gallery.
This will depend on whether our elected members decide to approve the application however the fight will not be over if they do, we will continue…….
We do understand that politicians have of course rightly been focussing on the EU referendum but life goes on now and Colliers/SPS are clearly well versed in timing of applications (This bombshell was dropped on us during purdah when the Scottish Parliament was in recess prior to the elections and their second consultation is announced two days before the EU referendum) a cynical view would be that this was deliberate….. Edward Mountain MSP has also been in touch and is working to have this ludicrous proposal stopped but we need a definitive answer and a plan.
The Inverness City Vision states that ‘the A9 corridor operates at a strategic level linking the Highlands and the wider landscape setting; it presents an opportunity for the city to portray itself at an international scale. It is a gateway. It announces the moment, for many of ‘coming home’. Is this the vision for Inverness city, after the long journey up the A9 we want residents and visitors to experience? As you arrive the landscape opens up with Easter Ross and Ben Wyvis and down to the stunning vista of the city and the Moray Firth, this cannot be allowed to be blighted. We can do better than this, we have a responsibility to future generations.
Many thanks for taking the time to read our letter, we hope to see you at the consultation.