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Whiteness Head : New Town in Moray, Scotland

Ardersier Development near Nairn on Moray Firth, Scotland design by Farrells

Ardersier Town

Scottish Rural New Town – originally by Terry Farrell & Partners

Planning Authority: Highland Council
Development consortium: Whiteness Property Company Ltd
Elements: 2,000 homes, hotel, marina; other facilities

Location: four miles west of Nairn
Site: former McDermott oil fabrication yard
Designations: Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation + Inner Moray Firth Special Protection Area

Highland Council planners approved outline permission for Whiteness Head at Ardersier on the condition that “adequate controls on the marina activity” and access are secured: still to be referred to Scottish Ministers.

Given the go-ahead, the wilderness four miles west of Nairn would make way for 1,950 homes, 25% of which would be affordable, a 120-bed hotel, a marina for up to 500 yachts, primary school, community hall, health centre and sports centre.

The development consortium, Whiteness Property Company Ltd, has promised
‘nature conservation enhancement measures’ including ‘habitat creation’. It would also demand a new waste water treatment works with further outfall to the Moray Firth. It would take an estimated decade to build, starting in 2008.

Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation is designated primarily for its bottlenose dolphin interest, the Inner Moray Firth SPA principally common tern and ospreys breeding in summer and bar-tailed godwits in winter. It is also of international importance for waterfowl as well as being a wetland of international importance, the reason for its wetlands designation of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The council’s planning committee debated the proposals after a site visit on 28 Nov 2006.

Highlands Buildings

Terry Farrell Architect, London, UK

View re Whiteness Head at Ardersier

The logic of allowing major development in the countryside has to be questioned: Inverness is apparently booming and we know urban centres have an intrinsic sustainability – could development not be located there? There are acres of boarded up houses in the Central Belt desperately requiring inward investment – government should be cajoling development into these areas – using grants, etc. – rather than allowing destruction of more of Scotland’s natural environment.

I’m sure the Ardersier development will be well-designed, even idyllic, and it sounds like it will be carefully planned to restrict damage to the habitat. But large gatherings of people, cars and buildings clearly always create pollution to some degree. And locating them away from the Central Belt will surely create lots of travelling, ie pollution.

Still, the site could be described as brownfield and thus has a correlation to the generally positive Blindwells development in East Lothian that is to cater for part of Edinburgh’s expansion. If we do need more development due to population pressure in the highlands it is better that it is located in considered architect-designed towns – such as Tornagrain or Ardersier – than pock-marking the hills and glens with ugly boxes.

What is your view? Do you think this represents an unacceptable risk to the wildlife at Whiteness? Or do you think this development could be a role model for contemporary Scottish towns? info(at)e-architect.com

TFP Farrells

Location: Ardersier, Moray Firth, northern Scotland

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Comments or building suggestions / photos for the ArdersierWhiteness Head page welcome

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