An Camas Mòr - a proposed New Community in the Highlands of Scotland
 
 
Frequently Asked Questions

Wednesday 13th June 2011

This paper tries to give answers to all the questions that have been asked by the public so far. If there is not an answer to your question please contact us. As the work develops some of these may change.  
Johnnie Grant of Rothiemurchus
Johnnie Grant of Rothiemurchus
 
 

Who is responsible for An Camas Mòr?

  • It was first proposed at a Community Council meeting in 1989; since then it has been supported by the Aviemore and Vicinity Community Council, The Highland Council and led by Johnnie Grant of Rothiemurchus up to the point of the National Park deciding to grant Planning Permission in Principle. From May 2011 Springfield are responsible for developing the Masterplan and building the first 200 homes.

About Springfield Properties:

  • Springfield Properties is a family-owned company established in Elgin in 1956. Working in house-building and construction, it is the lead company in a group of firms operating in the property sector.
  • The company has built over 2000 homes since 1998, delivering high-quality private and social housing across the north of Scotland.
  • Under the leadership of Sandy Adam, grandson of the founder of Springfield, the company has grown to become one of Scotland’s largest independently-owned house builders.
  • In 2005, Springfield was recognised by the Virgin Atlantic Sunday Times Fast Track list as Scotland's fastest growing, profitable, private company.

What is An Camas Mòr?

  • A Proposed New Community at An Camas Mòr; it would include space for up to 1500 residential units (subject to regular review) with associated business and community facilities and infrastructure provision and would not be completed before 2032.

Where can I see the plans?
  • On this website.
Where is An Camas Mòr?
  • It is on the other side of the River Spey from Aviemore and would be initially accessed by road from the Coylum Bridge to Nethy Bridge road and, more directly, by a new off road path and cycle route from close to the Rothiemurchus Fishery entrance. Here, as the community grows, there would be a new road from the electricity substation across the Dell Farm to An Camas Mòr.

Who is it for? What are the Jobs?
  • It’s designed for people who live in the area and are seeking a house or business premises and people who come to the area to work in them as identified in the Cairngorms National Park Authority Draft Local Plan and accompanying documentation. Currently there is a very long waiting list for housing in Aviemore and it is planned that this will be reduced with An Camas Mòr in place.
  • Through a public private sector partnership approach new employment would be brought to An Camas Mòr.
When would it happen?
  • It is hoped that the first homes will be ready for occupation in 2012; the first phase is expected to include 40% affordable homes prioritised for those on local housing lists and the rest for the open market. It is expected to accommodate the needs for new housing and premises in the area for 20-25 years and more.

What happens if there is a financial down turn when An Camas Mòr is half built?
  • One of the reasons for starting in the East is that An Camas Mòr could be a small hamlet from the start, including workspace and homes and community space appropriate for its size.  The design would enable it to grow incrementally from this into a village with a population similar to that in Aviemore.

Will An Camas Mòr become the new focus leaving Aviemore with inadequate and aging community facilities?
  • The start of An Camas Mòr would enable the opening up of the Aviemore Park with access to space for playing fields and other recreational activity.  So An Camas Mòr could be of considerable benefit to Aviemore community facilities.  How and to what extent future community facilities would be provided would depend on the success of community initiatives.

What principles are being followed?

An Camas Mòr would be planned to be:

  • Responsive to local need - the original idea came from the local community and The Highland Council in 1989 and has been developed over a number of years since then. The Council considered other locations and decided in favour of An Camas Mòr.
  • Designed comprehensively and delivered in the long term in accordance with the design principles agreed at the outset;  Aviemore has continued to develop on a piecemeal basis in spite of the earlier belief that it was already large enough.
  • Aim to be sustainable - An Camas Mòr will provide the opportunity for a carefully planned community to use environmental excellence to care for the natural heritage and meet the everyday needs of the people who live and work in the area. The EIA includes a sustainability report.
  • Inclusive - by working with the community and those who might live there, plans would be developed that can provide a wide choice of accommodation ranging from social housing, starter flats and homes to self build plots that can lead to a balanced community. There would also be space for working from home, workshops and community facilities.
  • Inclusive- by giving recognition to the national debate on the use of shared street surfaces and the need for kerbs.
What would it be like?
  • Houses, plus sports, community, shops and other business facilities.
  • Look at the Proposed Masterplan and note that the lead architect works around the World and brings that experience to designing places for life, spaces and buildings in that order. He has worked closely with the local community and specialists. Note that the vision was developed over a period of years some time ago and although the architectural principles have not changed, the outline planning application differs as a result of new policy, studies modeling, testing and consultation.
  • It would be built using environmentally sustainable principles and have a regular public transport service from the start.
  • All the buildings would be planned to be set within a woodland setting and would relate to tree heights.
  • It would be well screened from Aviemore and other lowland viewpoints by existing woodland and new planting.
  • By taking a short cut through the proposed new Aviemore Countryside Park the centre of An Camas Mòr could be within a 20-minute walk of Aviemore railway station.
  • The team will continue working with the community over the planning process to influence the eventual shape of the settlement.
Who is it for?
  • It would be designed to appeal to a wide range of local people of all ages and interests, as well as people who wish to join the community.
Why build so many houses?
  • It is planned to to provide for the housing need for a long period.  An Camas Mòr would start off as a small settlement but it would be clear that it could get bigger and people would know where it would stop.  In terms of new settlements in the UK the proposed 1500 homes is not large; other new planned settlements are in general three times that size. 
  • There is not enough accommodation to to meet the needs of people who want to live and work in the area and by planning ahead for 20 years plus An Camas Mòr can be a much better place.  The annual need for affordable housing that has been estimated by the Heriot Watt study for the Cairngorms National Park Authority has confirmed that the area needs An Camas Mòr to happen over the next 20-25 years.
  • The main growth of Aviemore started in the 1960s when the opening of the Cairngorm ski road and chairlift enabled it to develop as an all the year round tourism destination.   For a hundred years before, its main industry was based on being a railway junction, north, south and two routes to the east until the latter routes and the workshops were closed in 1958.  The new Aviemore Centre gave visitors and residents of a tiny Highland village, leisure facilities that were rare even for the largest cities and attracted a large number of residents attracted by wide range of employment opportunities as well as the winter sports.
  • Unfortunately the necessary bold long term planning for infrastructure required for the influx in the 1960s and 70s was apparently not taken because it was felt that the growth should be focused on other villages in Badenoch and Strathspey where there were already established communities.  Aviemore kept growing in spite of this presumption against development and the result was that many essential workers could only find accommodation in substandard housing such as caravans.  Eventually this was addressed by the addition of housing estates timed according to the availability of services such as waste water treatment and funding for affordable housing but development was frequently crisis led and lacked community facilities; not part of a long term plan.  An Camas Mòr aims to get it right and that should enable Aviemore to mature into a place with facilities appropriate for a place of its size and for its position as the hub of Badenoch and Strathspey. 
  • Aviemore & Vicinity Community Council became so concerned about the situation that in the 1970s it approached private house builders and British Rail - a major landowner and as a result the shopping centre beside the railway was built and the Dalfaber Estate was begun.  After years of sustained lobbying the doctor’s surgery eventually moved from a portacabin to a purpose built facility on land owned by the village hall.
  • The proposal in 1989 for An Camas Mòr came from and has been consistently supported by the Aviemore and Vicinity Community Council, when it proposed that a bold step should be taken by planning for a long time ahead.  After studying alternatives The Highland Council recommended that a new planned community should be established at An Camas Mòr from 2005 and after examination at the public enquiry it was adopted into planning policy.
  • For many years the lack of housing within easy reach of work has been a major problem for local people and businesses; the Local Plan identifies An Camas Mòr as answering local housing needs for 20-25 years.
  • New housing is required for the projected population growth in the Aviemore area which was identified by the Highland Regional Council in 1989 and confirmed in 2001 and again by the Cairngorms National Park Authority.  Some of this data is in An Camas Mòr socio economic study page 7.
  • Local people want space for more sports and community facilities.
Does it have Planning Permission?
  • The CNPA Planning Committee voted unanimously in June 2010 to grant in Principle Planning Permission subject to conditions.
  • The Highland Council Structure Plan, which also supports the development of An Camas Mòr, was approved by Scottish Ministers in 2001, following their decision to create a Cairngorms National Park. It was first included in planning policy with the adoption of the Local Plan in 1997 for starting after 2005.
Why at An Camas Mòr?
  • During the Local Plan consultation process, chaired by Aviemore and Vicinity Community Council in 1989, the local community expressed a preference for a new site, across the River Spey. This view has been consistently sustained ever since.
  • The Highland Council examined five locations and selected An Camas Mòr as the preferred site.
  • Aviemore is constrained by the A9, the railway and the river and has become very elongated.
  • An Camas Mòr is is close enough to share community facilities with Aviemore.  It would have a regular public transport service to Aviemore for the first phase. The centre would be a 30-minute walk from the mainline railway station.
  • An Camas Mòr will be designed as a sister community to Aviemore, sharing some of the main infrastructure facilities - Aviemore has the school and health and transport centre, while An Camas Mòr can provide space for sports and other community facilities.
  • Being planned from the start, it will accommodate the needs of the area minimising impact on the wider environment.
How?
  • Rothiemurchus Estate and An Camas Mòr LLP has been working in partnership with many different commercial, conservation and public sector specialists and agencies as well as the community council to encourage a truly partnership approach to this development.
  • Over the past three years, An Camas Mòr LLP has invested in substantial research into wildlife and habitat, access, housing, land use, engineering, social and economic and archaeological and landscaping issues. Details of these accompany the application and are listed as technical reports on this website.
  • An Camas Mòr LLP will also continue to engage with local communities for their input inthe development of the new village through public meetings and smaller focus groups.

What would be the relationship with Aviemore?

  • An Camas Mòr would therefore start as a small hamlet, perhaps grow to the population of, say, Boat of Garten in some years from now and depending on economic conditions continue to grow in a pre planned way over a generation.  An Camas Mòr would be a community in its own right, but by virtue of its location it would have a special relationship with Aviemore and the Aviemore and Vicinity Community Council wish is that the communities should come together for recreation, sport and other services. 
  • Between Aviemore and An Camas Mòr lies the River Spey with its 300 metre wide flood plain:  within the local plan (1997) an area is identified on either side of the River Spey to be safeguarded as Parkland for amenity, leisure and agricultural purposes.  For the community of Aviemore there is immediate potential for playing fields, paths and riverside woodland enhancement.  Various parties are currently active in pursuing the realisation of this aspiration.  Fundamental is a new foot/cycle bridge across the River Spey with a path directly linking central Aviemore to playing fields and on to An Camas Mòr to help the communities to come together.  The masterplan for An Camas Mòr would acknowledge this objective and Rothiemurchus Estate is keen to join with others to enable it. A condition of planning is that An Camas Mòr will contribute to funding the Park and bridge.
  • An extensive socio economic study would report on the impact of An Camas Mòr.  Aviemore should benefit from a wider range of housing opportunities which are currently a significant constraint on employers’ ability to attract suitable staff, business, new employment attracted to An Camas Mòr; the wait for housing should be substantially reduced.
  • The River Spey flood plain prevents Aviemore and An Camas Mòr from being physically close, but the sharing of facilities and services and especially the proposed Countryside Park would help bring the communities together.
  • Facilities and services would be shared; the school, main supermarket and health centre would be in Aviemore and the playing field and other recreational facilities would be at An Camas Mòr. When An Camas Mòr reaches 600 homes it would be expected to require a new primary school. (Note that it is planned for Aviemore to have a new school at the village hall site by 2012.)
What about the capacity of the school, health facilities and other services in Aviemore?
  • The socio economic study  includes a report on the capacity of all existing facilities and services.
  • The An Camas Mòr Proposed Masterplan contains a chapter on education; any questions relating to schools should be directed to Highland Council.
  • The provision of additional health services is a matter for NHS Highland.
  • The overall vision includes a community wood fuel heating plant however that is seen as something for the future and it would be the subject of a separate assessment and planning application.  Also other sources of energy saving and generation would be investigated.
Would it impact on other local communities?
  • A local business survey has been carried out and the impact on other communities would be addressed by the socio economic report.
How would it be accessed?
  • An Camas Mòr is planned to be built over 20-25 years but needs to start small and the team considers that for it to be sustainable the best place to do that is as an independent hamlet, with job opportunities within it, located at the East End set back from the road from Coylum to Nethy Bridge.
  • A public transport system would be in place from the start. At the detailed planning stage alternative forms of “green” transport would be considered.
  • By road it is little over 2 miles from the South Aviemore Roundabout and approx 3.5 miles from the A9.
  • By Foot and cycle paths the first phase would be under two miles from the Aviemore railway station via the Old Bridge Inn or one and a quarter miles through the proposed Community Park. The path could be separated from the busy main roads as far as the Dell of Spey, beside the Police Station.
  • Planning permission has been passed for up to 200 residential units to be serviced from the existing roads, providing that a route for construction traffic is provided from the start from the substation.   After that the construction route would be made up to public road standards.
Would there be a new bridge across the Spey?
  • There has been a consistent view expressed by the Community Council that there should at some time be a new road bridge to the North. This is not in the Local Plan and would not be needed for or justified by An Camas Mòr, however An Camas Mòr has been sited so that this possibility is not ruled out as an option for the future. 
  • The proposed Community Park requires community leadership and is not part of the An Camas Mòr application, but it would be supported by Rothiemurchus Estate and it is expected that An Camas Mòr would make an appropriate contribution.
How would it impact on the B970 to Nethy and elsewhere?
  • The socio economic study and transport assessments give further information on the impact on existing roads and communities.
Would it be a blot on the landscape?
  • An Camas Mòr will be a woodland community. It would be almost entirely screened by trees from roads and places which people usually visit.  It will be seen from the top of Craigellachie Hill and other elevated viewpoints.
  • Houses would be set back 30 metres from the B970 road behind trees; the end of the High Street would come closer to the road and very great care would be taken in the design of buildings at that location.
  • The Coylum Bridge Hotel and timeshare is a good example of buildings in woods; it was built on sparsely wooded moorland in 1960 and is a helpful comparison.
  • The landscape assessment technical paper provides further detail.
What types of housing would be available; would it be full of second homes?
  • A full range of housing types would be designed from starter homes to large family houses.
  • Different types of ownership are envisaged – rental, part-ownership and full ownership – in line with the Draft Local Plan.
  • It is a legal requirement for all new housing to be fully accessible for all, with no barriers for those with specific needs.
  • Design, marketing, rate of development and legal conditions of ownership would be planned to prioritise those who want to live and work in the community.  We have not found a way to curtail second home ownership but expect that the design and marketing of the new community would favour full time residents.

How do you ensure that housing will go to those who need it locally and not get farmed out to those out with the CNP on housing lists?

  • It is currently planned that 40% of the first 200 homes will be for people of local housing lists. It is expected that some of these will for Social Affordable but most will be mid market rent with a right to buy aimed at being suitable for people in local jobs.

Are you considering the needs of people of all ages?
  • People coming up to the house buying stage have taken part in a group meeting set up specifically for them and they have expressed considerable enthusiasm for An Camas Mòr. More ideas for other ways of consulting with all age and other groups would be welcome.
  • This is now especially relevant at the detailed planning stages.
  • Older people’s needs, such as sheltered housing or care facilities, are planned to be on the agenda at the detail stage and we are very keen to see a range of facilities for older people included in An Camas Mòr. 
  • Space for recreational facilities and opportunities would be available to all.
  • Public transport would be provided from the start.
What facilities would be available?
  • There would be the opportunity for a range of recreational facilities and for new businesses.
  • Facilities and services would be available to all, and we envisage that there would be some specifically for: older people, younger people, families, the business community and visitors.
  • An Camas Mòr would provide space for outdoor recreational facilities and encourage new enterprise to establish other facilities and services.
  • The Community Park would be accommodated by Rothiemurchus Estate.

What will the buildings look like? Will you try and make the buildings fit into the local surroundings?

  • What we do know at the moment is that for the environmental impact assessment and the Proposed Masterplan Report the fronts of houses on the street will be coherent and have natural proportions, roofs will be pitched at 47.5 degrees and not be reflective, walls will not be white and most buildings will be close to the street with the emphasis being on back gardens. Lighting would be mainly fixed to buildings and not shine upwards and there would be no dark doorways or corners. Most of the community would be in woodland – the majority of which would be located to the rear of gardens and on the perimeter of the village. A public meeting was held in September 2011 at which people were able to indicate the types of building they liked and talk to the master planner.

If I buyproperty in An Camas Mòr and move in 2012 will I be living on a building site for the next 15 years?

  • An Camas Mòr would be phased so that whilst there would usually be building taking place it would not be close for long and the intention is that construction traffic would not pass through occupied areas.

What about the Cultural and Environmental Heritage of the site?
  • National Park aims include conservation of the natural and cultural heritage and promotion of sustainable use, recreation and education, and the well being of local communities, all of which must be taken together. So part of that is enabling provision of homes and jobs with prospects for local people.
  • Central to this is that the vision is for a woodland community on a tight footprint in one place. This should make it easier to avoid development sprawl elsewhere.
  • The archaeologist has not identified any important features that cannot be avoided or mitigated for. 
  • There has been an ecological study carried out over a period of 4 years and the report  highlights special action that needs to be taken.
  • The site is not as important in ecological terms as the rest of Rothiemurchus; when it was included in the local plan the estate planted trees on the bare areas to complete the woodland setting for the community.  Discussions are taking place to establish how best to mitigate the effects of building both on site and off site.
  • The site has an attractive area of woodland in the South and this would not be developed.  Bridges would be built so as not to impact on the rivers and there would be many other avoidance, enhancement and mitigating measures.
  • It is inevitable that habitat would change, and how this is managed and its effects mitigated is in the ecological assessment.
How is climate change addressed?
  • The community would be on a tight footprint making efficient use of land.
  • It would be sustainable as a small village and designed to grow in an organised way according to need.
  • The feeling of a community in woodland would be retained as much as is practicable and the planting of trees would be encouraged, the vision is more like the Coylum Bridge Hotel grounds than the Aviemore environment.
  • The High Street would be East West, not straight, so that it provides shelter and catches the sunshine.
  • Modern building regulations require houses to have a low carbon footprint.
  • The use of timber for walls would be encouraged.
  • Many houses would be joined up to minimise heat loss.
  • Nearly all houses would be within a 5 minute walk of a busy High Street so that it easy to leave the car at home.
  • There would be an attractive off road path to Aviemore and also one through the proposed Aviemore Countryside Park.
  • There would be public transport connection to Aviemore from the start.
  • The community would be within easy cycling distance of a main line railway station.
  • The vision includes a wood fuel community heating plant; subject to EIA etc.
How can I learn about it and have my views taken into account?
  • In recent years the Cairngorms National Park Authority has consulted on this proposal as part of the Local Plan consultations. A lot can be read on its website under the Local Plan section.
  • The An Camas Mòr website was set up in 2006 and has been a source of information for all since then; it continues to be updated.
  • There have been four public meetings to date that have been well covered in the Badenoch and Strathspey Herald. There was a Drop in Session on 12th February 2009 for viewing the plans to be included in the application and another drop in session on Wednesday 8th September 2010. There have also been special meetings with for example younger people who aspire to own a home.  The list of public meetings can be seen by clicking here. There is to be another round of public consultation in advance of submission of the application for the Masterplan.
  • We continue to listen to our partners and are always happy to receive your comments however the indicative plans on which the EIA is based are now being fixed.  New ideas that affect that would from now have to have their own environmental impact study and assessment independently of the proposal as it stands.
  • We will continue to seek public feedback and encourage an open communication forum on An Camas Mor. In addition we will be setting up focus groups and welcome input from the local communities.
What will make it different and the place to be?
  • An Camas Mòr has been designed by David Sim of Gehl Architects with people from within the local community. David is Scottish and decided to work in Denmark because he holds considerable respect for Scandinavian design. He specialises in helping communities around the World design better places to live, starting by considering life and life style, spaces between buildings and then the buildings; see www.gehlarchitects.com    
  • David has worked since 2005 with the Aviemore community and local specialists from the private and public sectors to learn about the area, its special qualities and its needs and to develop an outline masterplan; it is not an idea designed for somewhere else; it has been designed by working from first principles and by applying them in a way that meets the needs of the people at this place at this time and as they perceive the future.  The result should be a place of considerable character, would become widely known for that and would provide a great lifestyle for many.
How did the plans get to the stage they are at?
  • On discovering that the community wanted to cross the river to Rothiemurchus Johnnie Grant was not entirely happy about the idea.  However after some persuasion he understood the social and economic need and how a new village could transform the quality of life for local people and the wider image of the area. He therefore wrote to conservation organisations and spoke to many local people and others to see if they wanted it to happen, they very nearly all did.
  • The next step was to outline what the place might be like for the 1994 Local Plan Enquiry and in 1997 it reported in favour of a community in a woodland setting to be built from 2005.
  • Trees were planted and from 2003 work began on planning again.
  • The environmental studies were started in 2004 and Gehl Architects were appointed in 2005.  Public meetings were held in 2005, 2006, and November 2008.  Workshops, engaging specialists by invitation, were held on transport, landscape, housing, buildings, sustainability and public realm in summer 2008.  Much of this was done simultaneously with the Cairngorms National Park Authority consultations on the Local Plan which confirmed the wish for the proposal.
  • In June 2008 the Cairngorms National Park Authority Draft Local Plan timetabled 100 house completions for 2011 and the environmental studies began.  The team includes specialists on Archaeology, Ecology, Geology, Hydrology, Planning, Master Planning, Architecture, Landscape, Socio Economics, Housing, Engineering, Roads, Bridges, Drainage, Lighting, Traffic and Sustainability. 
  • Planning Permission in Principle with conditions was granted for the An Camas Mòr proposal on Friday 11th June 2010. The next steps include the preparation of a Landscape and Ecology Plan together with a Masterplan for approval of the Cairngorms National Park Authority.  It is hoped that the first homes will be ready for occupation in 2012; the first phase is expected to include 150 affordable homes prioritised for those on local housing lists and 50 for the open market.
Are you being over ambitious; will it ever be built?
  • There is a widely shared desire to see a new community that will meet the needs of the local people and the local economy and fit in its natural environment. Whilst the An Camas Mòr team believes that given reasonable economic conditions the proposal is feasible there is an urgent need for homes affordable for locally employed people that can be met with An Camas Mòr.  The Cairngorms National Park Authority Principles agreed for An Camas Mòr on 12.12.2008 include the statement “An Camas Mòr would show how private and public investment and a range of small and large developers would consistently work together when the land is no longer in one ownership, over all phases of the development, to create a new community with a distinct and cohesive identity and sense of place.”  It is believed that the public private partnership and the need for accommodation for local people and business would drive the development forward.   
Design Team Draft Documents - protected