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Developers hit back after renewal of planning permission for expansion at Inshes retail park in Inverness recommended for refusal

By Val Sweeney

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A major expansion is planned at Inshes Retail Park in Inverness.
A major expansion is planned at Inshes Retail Park in Inverness.

Developers seeking to renew planning permission for the major expansion at an out-of-town retail park in Inverness have accused council officers of refusing to engage with them.

Planning permission in principle to develop shops, a public house and restaurant, community allotments plus car parking and new access roads next to Inshes retail park was given in 2017 following a public inquiry.

Aberdeen Standard Investments has now applied for a three-year extension to enable further applications regarding planning conditions.

But Highland Council officers will recommend the application is refused by the south planning applications committee on Tuesday, saying it will have "a significantly adverse impact" on the vitality and viability of the city centre, which would be against local development plans.

They also maintain the development has not been demonstrated to be free from the one-in-200 year flood risk event.

A spokesman for the applicant said it was disappointing it was being recommended for refusal and urged the committee to carefully consider the application and the immediate and wider benefits including the required wider road and transport solutions at Inshes.

"We have and continue to try to engage positively with officers to alleviate any concerns they had over the application which is in effect simply a renewal of a previous consent which was granted at a public inquiry that despite initial challenge was uncontested by the council, the inquiry was required again as a consequence of an officer’s recommendations for refusal at that time," he said.

"Officers have refused to engage and despite requests have provided no evidence to support their recommendation nor have they provided any evidence base for those reasons."

He maintained the scheme was supported by current planning policy and delivery of the development and various benefits it would bring had unfortunately been delayed due to the required highways improvements not being implemented for various reasons.

A council spokeswoman said having reviewed the applicant’s planning statement and retail assessment, the planning authority requested an updated and more robust retail impact assessment.

"This level of assessment was not provided by the applicant and therefore evidence from a range of other sources was used to reach a recommendation on the application," she said.

"As a result there was no need to have further discussion on the application prior to reaching a recommendation on the application."

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