Council confirms correct planning procedures were followed for new Fort William school
Highland Council officials have confirmed that the work undertaken relating to the submission and assessment of the planning application for the new Gaelic School in Fort William followed the proper procedures.
Following issues raised at a public meeting, and the suggestion by some residents that they did not receive their neighbour notifications, The Highland Council’s Depute Chief Executive asked officers to review the consultation and Planning processes. They found that all relevant procedures were correctly followed by the Fort William Planning team and the impact of the development on the amenity of local householders was taken into account in the assessment of the application as part of the planning process.
The Council is satisfied that it has complied with the regulations relating to neighbour notification as set down by the Scottish Government and wishes to stress that it went above and beyond the minimum requirements for consultation to ensure that the community was engaged with the process.
As well as the creation of a local Stakeholders Group which met six times in 2012 and 2013 to discuss the development of the campus, the Council advertised the application in the local press and ran two community consultation sessions last May in the Caol Community Centre and Alexandra Hotel ahead of the submission of the planning application. At both of these sessions the plans approved by the Stakeholders Group along with a 3d visualisation and a scale model of the school campus configuration were displayed. Architectural staff were also on hand to explain the design to visitors. Responses received from the public following these events were all positive. The formal planning application was submitted on 21 June 2013 and all residents within 20 metres of the school campus boundary were issued with details of the application.
Councillor Thomas MacLennan, Leader of Lochaber Area said: “I am pleased that the review of the planning procedures confirms that all processes were adhered to by The Highland Council. This reinforces that the criticism of the Lochaber Area Planning Office was unfortunate and inaccurate.”
The new £7 million stand-alone Gaelic Medium Primary School on Ardgour Road is one of three new schools in Fort William that will open to pupils over the next 18 months. Upper Achintore Primary and Fort William Primary will amalgamate into the new school on Lundavra Road and the new Joint Campus in Caol will provide a shared site for Caol Primary School and the new Roman Catholic school, which will replace the existing Lochyside and Fort William RC Primary Schools.