Glen Urquhart Community Council

1. Present: Dianne Fraser (Chair), David Fraser, Pam Lucas, Fiona Urquhart, David Ferguson, Dominic Thierry, and Val Cooper

 Also present: Councillor Margaret Davidson, Fraser Mackenzie, and Nicky MacLennan, Soirbheas.

Apologies: Stuart Ross, Stewart McLeay and Councillor Helen Carmichael.

2. Minutes of the last meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 24th August 2020 were approved as a correct record. (Pam Lucas / Dominic Thierry)

3. Matters arising from minutes

Item 3 - Glen Urquhart Signage – Approval received from Bear Scotland, now awaiting Highland Council approval. Action – David Fraser

Item 3 - Old Kilmore Car Park – Awaiting confirmation that Highland Council will take over the car park if Tulloch resurface and erect height barrier. Action – David Fraser

Item 3 – Scotmid Site – See item 11 below.

Item 5 – Littering – See item 12 below.

Item 6 – Cycling Group – See item 6 below.

Item 8 – Flooding in Balmacaan – See item 9 below.

4. Treasurer’s Report

David Ferguson provided the following report:

Our bank account holds funds for Community Council and Cnoc an Burraidh burial chamber restoration works.  At our last meeting in August, the balance was £39,584.78.  For clarity, the accounts have been split into two parts; the community council funds total £10,060.19, including £7,500 which is “ring fenced” for Loch Ness Tourism Strategy / Glen Urquhart Place Planning, and the Cnoc an Burraidh funds total £29,524.59.  In the last month there has been no bills to pay and no money coming in, so the balance remains unchanged.

5. Police Report

No report received.

6. Glen Urquhart Active Travel and Cycleways

Dianne Fraser advised that she had met with Gordon Watson and Debbie McWirr to progress issues, the project “wish list” had been updated and they were looking into funding which might be available.  They had also met with representatives from the High School who have agreed to send letters of support for the initiatives which might help with funding applications, and the case for commuting to school.  David Fraser and Margaret Davidson will be meeting with Sustrans regarding the A82 cycle route in mid October and will provide an update at the next meeting.  Action – Dianne Fraser and David Fraser / Margaret Davidson

7. Forest and Land Scotland (FLS) Updates on Craigmonie and Balnain

As previously noted, there would be no FLS tree felling this year due to COVID 19.

8. Flood Alleviation Schemes

a. Drumnadrochit Green Scheme – Scheme delayed until early 2021, confirmation has been received from Highland Council that work is progressing to schedule.

b. Balmacaan / Lewiston – David Fraser has drafted a letter to residents and requested assistance to help deliver to households most affected, at the top end of Balmacaan and Lewiston, an update should also be added to the community facebook page so the wider community are aware that GUCC is trying to deal with issues in the area.  The draft letter was approved by members and Dianne confirmed that he son and friends would deliver these during the school holidays.  Fiona Urquhart confirmed that she would update Dianne with details of the Facebook page.  Action – Dianne Fraser / Fiona Urquhart  

9. Roads / Drainage

A82 – Information has been requested on the speed survey which took place at the Clansman in March and July.  Transport Scotland have confirmed that the Drum Bridge Parapet repairs were scheduled to take place before April 2021 but no confirmed date as yet.

David Fraser confirmed that he would send a reminder to Bear and Transport Scotland  regarding the need for drainage improvements in the Clansman to Abriachan area and the removal of rocks from the road side between Temple Pier and the Clansman.  Action – David Fraser

Pedestrian Crossing at Scotmid – start date of 5th October had been confirmed with an estimate of 4 weeks for completion.  There will be no access to the bus stop for the duration of the works as this will be used for the storage of materials, however the bus will stop alongside and pedestrians can use the shelter.  

A recent incident has been reported where school girls had fallen off their bikes on the pavement between the former West End garage and Kilmichael and as a result had fallen onto the road.  It was confirmed that scraping back the grass which was very overgrown resulting in a narrowing of the pavements in many areas would significantly improve the issue however there is a case for a wider and better route here but this would be a longer term aim.  Margaret Davidson will continue to liaise with John Taylor at Highland Council to get this work done.  Liaisons could also take place with the Highland Council Road Safety Officer regarding the possibility of a widened and improved route and an extension of the 30mph limit.  Action – Margaret Davidson / David Fraser

A831 – GUCC have received an assurance that every effort will be made to attend to the blocked gullies between Drum Bridge and Milton, and in Balnain, before the winter.  An update will be requested in advance of next meeting.  Action – David Fraser

Drumnadrochit Village Surface Water - GUCC have written to Highland Council / Transport Scotland / Bear and Scottish Water regarding the need for a full study and a response is awaited.  Action – David Fraser

Pitkerrald Road – GUCC have suggested that Highland Council take advantage of the dry summer and improve the soakaway at the old pond which is the source of much of the water and grit in the area.  Agreement was received that this would be beneficial but a response on action is awaited.  Action – David Fraser / Margaret Davidson

10. Planning Applications

20/02782/FUL – Erection of house, land to South West of Dalmmeny, East Lewiston – The developer had originally applied for 4 houses on this site, which was not approved.  The 3 houses which got permission are now almost complete.  GUCC originally commented on overdevelopment, developer contributions, car parking and neighbour intrusion of this site.  GUCC have therefore sent an objection to Highland Council in respect of this application.

Springfield – As per the Scottish Government website a decision on this application is scheduled for 17th October.

R House / Skye Builder – It was noted that Skye Builder have put two plots for houses for sale at the top of Balmacaan, a number of objections were submitted and GUCC awaits confirmation on the conditions for this development before further comment.

Highland Housing Alliance (HHA) / Scotmid Site - HHA met with Highland Council planners, and are working on a pre-application which includes a revised layout.  HHA had noted our comments and advised that we would be updated when they had concluded their discussions with the planning department.  The following response has since been received, “HHA has to ensure that the scheme is financially viable in order that we can proceed with any development whilst ensuring that the development is sympathetic to the surrounding area, and crucially providing homes that are sorely needed.  In light of Covid, we have had to revisit some aspects – the car park is currently a well-used drop off point for the school and we feel that using this area for development at this time would cause unnecessary disruption.  Similarly, the play area appears to have been very well used and our view is that we would rather leave this where it is for just now given it is popular and well used.  We are therefore looking at just the site that HHA owns, which is what we originally had looked at.  
We recently advertised 6 homes for mid market rent in Drum which we are taking handover of next week.  For the 6 homes, we had over 40 notes of interest of which a substantial amount were from Drum and the immediate area which is very encouraging on one level, but obviously quite sad that there is such pent up demand”.

GUCC has tried very hard to encourage HHA to engage with us, and it looks like they are reverting to their original plan of only developing the original shop site, which could result in a 3 storey development.  It was agreed therefore that GUCC would respond again, recognising the need for affordable housing; accepting that both the car park and play park are busy at certain times, but that these are manageable problems; that COVID 19 is not a reason for compromised design; that a 3 storey building is neither in keeping nor acceptable to the community, and that they should be looking at the whole site to deliver a solution that fits in with our village.  It was hoped that a HHA representatives might attend the October meeting to provide an update.  Action – David Fraser

11. Littering

Dominic Thierry confirmed that he had sent a letter regarding littering issues to Highland Council, confirmation of receipt had been sent to David Fraser but a response was awaited.   David Ferguson had also reported the overflowing bins in the Old Kilmore area to Highland Council on a number of occasions, and neither the response nor service received was satisfactory.  It was noted that any possibility of increasing the number of times a bin could be emptied, or whether they could be replaced by larger vessels would have to be looked at in conjunction with existing routes and emptying in the area.  Margaret Davidson advised that she would request that Alan McKinney, Highland Council Waste Operations Manager get in touch with GUCC to discuss what might be possible.  Action – Margaret Davidson

GUCC recognised that littering was a big issue nationally and that there might be national initiatives which would be applicable for the area, however a very limited response had been received from our local MSPs in relation to this.  Margaret Davidson confirmed that Highland Council will be trialling new approaches for next year such as a ranger scheme and increased seasonal waste collection however ongoing budget restraints would undoubtedly mean that other areas may be adversely affected as a result of increased spend for these initiatives.   

12. Correspondence

No new correspondence for discussion.

13. AOCB
Street Name – The new street name had been formally agreed as “Balantraan” however the developers have since sold houses based on “Balanstrachan”.  The administration of changing this is now too onerous since the properties have been sold and deeds written up, and therefore GUCC needs to formally approve “Balanstrachan” as the new name.  This was therefore agreed.
Community Resilience Planning – Volunteers are sought to form a subgroup to assist with reviewing and updating the community plan.  Dominic Thierry volunteered as the GUCC representative and his details will be passed to Susan Clark who is leading the group.  There was a general discussion about the likelihood of an increase in hardship problems and isolation, especially with winter approaching, as an ongoing result of COVID 19.  Highland Council were endeavouring to act quickly with guidelines on short term help for over the winter and then working on longer term measures for the future.  It was felt that the community resilience plan should be updated with names, numbers, places etc, but that it should also include planning for a pandemic within it.  Following these discussions it Margaret Davidson suggested that the group meeting with the Ward Manager / Highland Council representatives to discuss suggestions and signposting for people.  It was agreed therefore that Dianne Fraser would forward these details to Susan Clark to take forward.  Action – Dianne Fraser
unloit Rewilding Community Consultation – David Fraser and Dianne Fraser has recently had a conference call with Jeremy Leggett regarding his proposals for the Bunloit area, and he was seeking consultation and input from the community on his plans.  Initially the most significant issues which would require to be considered sympathetically was any increased impact on the road or water systems in the area which are already under pressure.  In discussing this issue, GUCC would be interested to know more about the level of connection with larger rewilding organisations, also, although the area is referred to as an "estate", the area of land is quite modest, however, it is highly visible from the other side of Loch Ness, so any additions to the existing buildings needs care.   More active consultation during the remaining 6 months is encouraged to give the community some framework to understand exactly what is being proposed.  Further details (bio and video) can be found
here and here.  Members are requested to submit comments, which can include direct questions for Mr Leggett, to David Fraser by the end of the week.  Action – All / David Fraser  

Drumnadrochit PO Phone Box – Further communication had been received from BT that it was still within the plans to remove the phone box from outside the Post Office, as the area has full mobile phone coverage and the phone box has had minimal use.  Members were of a mind that this was an important commodity for the village and should be retained.  Pam Lucas reminded members that during the major power cut a few years ago the battery land lines did not work and the main mobile mast was out, although some services did continue to function.  However, phones ran out of battery, and could not be recharged unless the person was in a position to travel to another district which did have power.  It was agreed that details should be added to the community Facebook page to gauge community response.  Since the meeting further information had been received to confirm that the phone box in the in the Tourist Information Car Park was still in operation, however it was agreed that this issue would be progressed to ensure rural areas do not find themselves in a position where they have no public pay phone available for use.  Action – David Fraser
Community Hub Share Offer Initiative – GUCC recognised the success of the recent share offer initiative which had been well run and now has the financial guaranteed for proceeding.

Dead Trees on Kilmore Road – Fiona Urquhart to contact Alan Johnson.  Action – Fiona Urquhart
Local Council By-election – Scheduled for 5th November, Margaret Davidson encouraged members of the community to take the opportunity to vote in this election.  Information rceive following the meeting that these elections have subsequently been postponed due to COVID 19.
Glen Urquhart Bulletin – The 2020 bulletin is now for sale in the PO and Lewiston Garage and members of the community are encouraged to purchase and support this publication.
Divach Bridge – The bridge has recently been hit by a lorry, and while some repairs have taken place, there remains two large gaps where stones are missing and these sections are likely to deteriorate further.  This should be reported to Alan Johnson for action.  Action – David Fraser

14. Details of Next Meetings
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 26th October, arrangements to be confirmed.  

There was no further business and the meeting closed at 9.15pm.

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Minutes of Meeting held on

Monday 28th September 2020 at 8.00pm

via conference call

Due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, and in line with government guidelines, the GUCC business was discussed and agreed via conference call.  Until restrictions are lifted the Community Council will aim to produce a monthly agenda and report using the standing timetable. If anyone wishes to join the next meeting via conference call please contact any member of the CC.