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Plans for Forres houses refused

By Staff Reporter

PLANS for 12 houses within a woodland site in the south east of Forres have been refused.

Developer Ray McDonald was seeking planning permission for the three, four and five-bedroom properties on a 3.11 hectare parcel of land on St Leonard's Road.

The application has been refused by Moray Council's planning and regulatory services committee after a debate lasting more than an hour.

The proposal had attracted 60 individual objections, with concerns ranging from the impact of the development on the natural woodland environment to drainage and road safety fears.

A petition gathered by the Forres Community Woodlands Trust received 112 signatures and Forres Community Council also objected to the plan due to the impact on the woodland environment.

Woodland Trust Scotland has applauded the Moray councillors who turned down the plans to build at the Muiry Wood.

A developer was seeking planning permission for 12 three, four and five-bedroom properties on a 3.11 hectare site on St Leonard's Road.

Trust member George Anderson said: "Ancient woodland is amongst the most precious and biodiverse habitats in the UK and is a finite resource which must be protected from damage, loss and fragmentation. "This application contravened both national and local planning policy. We strongly applaud the stance taken by councillors. Local vigilance has also been crucial. Hats off to the community council and Forres Community Woodlands Trust who also stood up to save the wood.”

The proposal attracted a total of 60 individual objections, with concerns ranging from the impact on the woodland to drainage and traffic safety.

Planning officers had recommended the proposal be approved as it complied with council policies and was situated on land identified in the current local development plan as an opportunity site.

A report stated Scottish Water had no objection, nor did the authority's transportation manager subject to a number of conditions.

While the development would have included the loss of trees, the application included the planting of 497 native broadleaves.

A woodland management plan had also been submitted and the applicant had agreed to pay £12,000 for compensatory planting as part of a package of developer contributions.

But Forres Councillor Claire Feaver's motion for the application to be denied was given the meeting's backing.

She argued the plan contravened a number of national and local planning policies and would result in the loss of ancient woodland.

Cllr Feaver said: "It specifically says in our Moray Local Development Plan 2015 that a development which involves the loss of woodlands will be refused where the development would result in unacceptable adverse effects on amenity, landscape, biodiversity, economic or recreational value.

"We also do not have a site for compensatory planting which would replace this ancient woodland."

Fellow Forres councillor George Alexander had raised concerns over the increase of sewage on a network he said is already at capacity.

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