Highland games ‘under threat’ due to plans for up ?to 250 homes

Highland games held in Ballater since 1864 are under threat from a new housing development, event organisers claim.

A competitor throws the weight at the Ballater Highland Games.

Land used for car parking during the event, every August, has been earmarked for 250 homes.

Scott Fraser, vice chairman of the Ballater Highland Games, said: “We have to try and stop this or it could put the whole sustainability of the games in jeopardy.”

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The proposed housing development is revealed in the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s local development plan (LDP) for 2020-2025 which was published last week. It shows that land owned by the Invercauld Estate, next to Ballater’s games ground on Monaltrie Park – which is currently used as the car park for the event – has been earmarked for a new housing development of up to 250 homes.

In the proposed LDP, the boundary of the site has been indicated, with further clarification needed once the masterplan is drawn up. The report accepts that adequate car parking for the games would also need to be clarified.

However, the games committee held an emergency meeting this week to discuss the plans and what it means for the event.

Mr Fraser said: “The field next to Monaltrie Park is not only used by us for car parking, but also for the Orienteering Championships.

“The Cairngorms plan does appear to give us more new open space, but the preferred access road for the housing would more than likely take up a huge chunk of that.

“We have been told the preferred route would come off Craigview Road, which would mean less traffic going into the village – and a live road going right through the middle of the games.

“It seems to be a big secret as to who the developers are – no-one is telling us anything.”

National Park convener, Xander McDade said he believed the proposed 2020-2025 LDP would “deliver” positive results.

He added: “It will deliver for housing, businesses and for recreation and enjoyment. I would encourage everyone to take a look at the plan and share your views with us.”

There will be drop-in consultation events taking place before the public opinion deadline of 5 April.

The first takes place in Braemar village hall on Thursday, 7 February between 3pm and 7pm; Tomintoul Richmond hall on Monday 11 February; Eleven41 Gallery in Kingussie on 12 February; The Hub in Aviemore on 18 February; Ballater Station on 19 February; Blair Atholl village hall on February 21 and at the CNPA office in Grantown-on-Spey on 25 February.