- Written by Roy Turnbull
- Category: Debates
- Published: 29 June 2013
In your report "Cairngorms homes 'will destroy woodland'", 27 June, you refer to the application to build 58 houses in School Wood, Nethy Bridge, which would destroy 12 acres of this ancient woodland in the Cairngorms National Park. You mention that Nethy Bridge Community Council "supports the application".
The constitution of the NB Community Council states that function of the Council shall be (inter alia) "to ascertain, co-ordinate and express" to the relevant authorities "the views of the community which it represents". This planning application is for the largest number of houses ever proposed in Nethy Bridge, yet the Community Council failed to convene a special public meeting whereby those community views could be ascertained. The Minutes of the May monthly meeting at which the Community Council decided "no objections" to this application, record "Members of the Public: None".
Moreover, during consultations over the National Park Local Plan in 2005, to which this application relates, the Community Council did convene a well-attended public meeting (12 January). That meeting voiced overwhelming opposition to large-scale housing developments in the village. Similarly, at a public meeting with the applicants in the presence of the National Park head of planning (5 April 2012), very considerable concerns were expressed over housing developments in School Wood. Notwithstanding those concerns, a community councillor then expressed "100 per cent support" for the proposal, apparently oblivious to the fact that his remit was to express the community view, not his private opinion.
I submit that the "support" provided by Nethy Bridge Community Council for this application merely reflects the private views of the half-dozen councillors involved. It is not a fair reflection of the views of the community that it is supposed to represent.