Councillors to discuss next moves on Common Good proposals

Bogton Road – Development planned.

Proposals over the sale of common good land in Forres for the development of a retail complex will come into focus today at Moray Council.

Members of the policy and resources committee will discuss a number of possible asset transfers and property sales, including the land at Bogton Road surrounded in controversy since it was first targeted by commercial developers Redco Milne.

An earlier bid by the Aberdeen-based company appeared to have ended last year when a poll of local residents produced a clear ‘no’ on proposals to sell the land, which includes Mosset Park, the home of Forres Mechanics.  Last month members of the planning committee at Moray Council agreed to look in detail at the Redco Milne proposals, despite strong local opposition.

At today’s meeting a clear timetable will be discussed for individuals or groups who might wish to purchase or adopt council assets, with several expressions of interest having been shown in such as the Cullen Memorial Hall, Dufftown Clocktower and the Tolbooth in Forres.

Leader of the Council, Stewart Cree, has said that should any formal approach be made over the Bogton Road land negotiations would be required to establish a value for the site.  He insisted, however, that the views of local people would be taken, saying: “The council, in full consultation with the people of Forres, will then be required to decide whether or not to proceed with the disposal of the site.”

Even in the event of such an agreement being reached an application would need to be made at Elgin Sheriff Court to satisfy a legal obligation that the council is acting in the best interests of the community.

Meanwhile the Minister for Local Government, Derek Mackay, has instructed his officials to seek the views of the Forres Community Council during their drafting of the Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill.

Mr Mackay learned of local concerns over Bogton Road from Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead, who said: “Community concerns around Redco Milne’s proposed development at Bogton Road in Forres have undoubtedly created a focal point for Common Good concerns.  It is important that these issues feed into the development of national legislation.”