New town can repeat family triumph, says landowner
THE man behind plans for a new town near Inverness says he is driven by a family legacy to make the project a success.
John Stuart, Lord Doune, son of the 20th Earl of Moray, is overseeing a plan to turn an area largely made up of farmland and forestry into a settlement for 10,000 people.
Yesterday, a consultation exercise began amid mounting opposition to the plan. But Lord Doune is hoping history will repeat itself. In the 1820s his family began a development around a small farm on the edge of Edinburgh, which was to become an integral part of the coveted New Town.
The work was commissioned by the 10th Earl of Moray who hired the architect Gillespie Graham and adopted a strict design code for the new buildings.
Lord Doune, a director of Moray Estates, has commissioned the Florida-based town planner Andres Duany to draw up the blueprint for the new settlement at Tornagrain, also with strict ideas on how it is designed.
Duany is one of the founders of the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU), a movement that promotes more traditional, pedestrian-friendly cities and has influenced the building of Poundbury, designed for the Prince of Wales near Dorchester.
In a rare interview, Lord Doune told The Scotsman: "We are starting with a clean sheet of paper, going back to basic principles and combining that with the latest ideas on development to create a new town and central core settlement of people in a more sustainable way."
Lord Doune sees parallels in the creation of Tornagrain and the expansion of Edinburgh's New Town. "At that time we started a process very similar to the process we are starting now.
"Then, we wanted to move away from the very linear grid of the Queen Street/George Street/Princes Street area and have something more morphic.
"Gillespie Graham came up with a strict design code and you absolutely had to stick to it.
"There are a lot of parallels in what we are doing now in that we will produce a design frame and bring back traditional urban transects. Tornagrain will have dense urban blocks, terraced housing in the centre, radiating out to less dense housing."
He added: "My own enthusiasm for it is really down to the fact that I don't want my sons being pilloried for this legacy.
"Moray Place was a great success and stood the test of time and is still one of the most desirable places to live. I would like to think this new town can also be a success."
The consultation process is called a charette, the first of its kind in the UK, and is intended to resolve local concerns before the formal planning stage is reached.
Much of the criticism is levelled at the scale of the new community which would become one of the biggest in the Highlands outside Inverness.
But Roddy Balfour, a local councillor, said: "No-one in the area wants this. It would be a disaster for this part of the world economically, socially and geographically.
"There is nothing to consult on because there are no firm plans yet, only a concept.
"They should have waited until they had something firm to discuss rather than stomping in and upsetting people."
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