An Camas Mòr is vital to the future of the strath – Dave Fallows, Newtonmore

Posted on April 18th, 2019
by An Camas Mor
vision for An Camas Mor in 2055, Cairngorms NAtional Park, An Camus Mor, Cambusmore

Much has been said about the disastrous mess that was, and still is, the operation of Cairngorm as a ski centre.

This issue has a long way to run though there are as many reasons, if not more, to be positive rather than negative. But there is an equally serious crisis in Aviemore that requires real solutions. That is provision of housing, and the infrastructure to support housing that turns houses into homes.

Fully 30 years ago Aviemore Community Council approached Highland Council with the idea of creating a new community that would provide for future housing needs in a planned way. Rothiemurchus listened, and the idea of An Camas Mòr was born. In 1989, AVCC’s then chairman, Dr MacDonald, penned a powerful letter in support of the concept. Since then, the allocation has appeared in every plan. Subsequently, the Cairngorms National Park Authority gave permission in outline to the project. A more refined permission was later granted, subject to substantial and sometimes onerous conditions. That permission has, for many reasons, not yet been formerly issued, but I understand that the last step prior to issuance has now been completed and it should be completed shortly.

However, the next iteration of the Local Development Plan is imminent – final consultation has closed and only minor changes will now be considered. In this new plan, An Camas Mòr has been proposed to be downgraded from a ‘new strategic settlement’ to ‘strategic consent’, and a new area of allocation in North Aviemore, from the existing development boundary north towards the dump, has been included as a ‘long term allocation’, but with an indication this allocation will be realised if it becomes apparent An Camas Mòr will not go ahead, implying a potentially early realisation in that event.

At a certain level, this all sounds quite reasonable doesn’t it? But this is a long, long way from a realistic plan B and in no sense solves the running sore that is the lack of housing across all forms of tenure and all sizes in and around Aviemore.

An Camas Mòr has always been a visionary approach to creating a new community in a national park. It plans to create homes that people can work from as well as live in; it plans infrastructure built in as it develops; shops, medical facilities, a school, playing fields, walks – all part of a great vision not borne out of a landowner’s wish to make profit, but out of the community’s recognition that a long term plan for Aviemore and its surrounds would be vital if the whole of the strath was to prosper and to stop the drift of young people away from this wonderful area.

The process has, rightly, seen many hurdles to overcome so that the development grows in harmony with the landscape, flora and fauna of this park. The so-called North Aviemore allocation has none of this. No planning at all; no infrastructure; no vision. Just an extension of the already too lengthy ‘unplanned urban sprawl’. Even if there was any kind of realistic ‘masterplan’, it is too small to deliver anything much, if at all, over and above a limited area of housing.

This is no solution. Manifestly, the current Local Development Plan’s housing targets have not been met. Some establishments had to close at times or curtail operations last summer through lack of staff. There is nothing in the new plan that indicates how sufficient new houses to meet even the dubiously low targets now set can actually be met… except through An Camas Mòr.

Right now is the most critical time for Aviemore’s future. All who believe in the future of not just Aviemore, but the whole strath need to demonstrate their continued support for this vision, by registering your interest here. Without it, Aviemore’s prospects – and those for the rest of us too, will inexorably wither on the vine through lack of the uisge beatha of all economies – our future generations of young blood.

Dave Fallows

This letter first appeared in the Thursday, April 18, 2019 edition of the Strathspey & Badenoch Herald.

Update from An Camas Mòr:

The revised Planning Permission in Principle for An Camas Mòr was issued by Cairngorms National Park Authority on 29th April 2019.

Johnnie Grant for An Camas Mòr – “We are very pleased; this will enable the Scottish Government and Public bodies work with the team and the local community to co-ordinate the plans that will ensure delivery. If all goes reasonably well the first homes will be available within three years, with the completion of the community sometime after 2050”.

John Grierson, Chair of Aviemore and Vicinity Community Council, the body that first promoted the concept of a new planned sustainable sister community, –  “Fantastic news,  we have supported this proposal right from day one and nothing has caused us to change our stance, the sooner it starts the better as far as we’re concerned”.

Mark Tate, Cairngorms Business Partnership chief executive – “ The lack of housing to rent or buy for people who want to work in, live in and care for our national park remains one of the key barriers for businesses to invest here. The CBP support An Camas Mòr as it will provide housing and infrastructure that has much broader economic and social benefits. Consultation has just closed on the Local Development Plan 2020-25, if it stands any chance of success then An Camas Mòr must go ahead”.

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