Glen Urquhart Community Council

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Minutes of Meeting

held on

Monday 27th September 2021 at 8pm

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.

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

         Also present: Susan Clark, GURCA, and 4 members of the public.

Apologies: Iain Riddle, Stuart McLeay and Councillors David Fraser, Margaret Davidson and Helen Carmichael.

2.    Minutes of the last meeting
The minute of the meeting held on 23rd August was approved as a true record (Fiona Urquhart / Dominic Thierry).

3.    Matters arising from minutes

Item 3 - Broadband Issues – Dianne Fraser confirmed that she is continuing to progress issues with community broadband.  Action – Dianne Fraser
Item 13 - Local Boundary Commission – Objection lodged and this is now in front of Parliament.
Item 13 – NHS Transport / Patient Participation Group – A meeting of this group has now been scheduled.  Dominic Thierry also provided an update on patient transport issues, having spoken with the Glen Urquhart Care Centre Manager it was noted that their minibus was currently SORNED under NHS recommendations and there were no imminent plans for this arrangement to change.  Transport support is now only being given to those affiliated with the Centre as Covid has moved to a different phase.  The Centre are hoping to receive funding for a new minibus in due course.  It was agreed that this issue should be discussed further at the forthcoming OpenNess meeting.  Dominic Thierry offered to act as GUCC liaison between the Centre and GUCC and this was welcomed.

4.    Treasurer’s Report

David Ferguson provided the following financial report:

At the last meeting in June, the total balance was £21,761.21     

Community Council funds total £9,600.42    (£7,211.77 “ring fenced” for Loch Ness Tourism Strategy / Glen Urquhart Place Planning)

Cnoc an Burraidh funds total   £12,160.79

In the last month, there has been no activity in our account, so the balance remains unchanged.

Total balance in our account = £21,761.21

The application for online banking is still in progress.

5.    Police Report

No report received.  Dianne Fraser confirmed that she will contact Police Scotland again to request an update.  Action – Dianne Fraser

6.    Roads / Drainage

a) A82 Road

Dianne Fraser advised that Margaret Davidson and David Fraser had recently met with Transport Scotland, and the following issues had been discussed:

- A82 Fort Augustus to Inverness.  Resurfacing completed, and any potholes should be picked up in weekly survey.  Any pothole issues can also be reported online through the Bear Scotland defects link  

- A82 Fort Augustus to Inverness - better signage.  Any suggestions for additional improved signage to be provided to David Fraser and Margaret Davidson for further discussion.

- A82 Fort Augustus to Inverness – Any areas of concern in regards to wildlife eg deer, otters, red squirrels should be reported to Eddie Douglas (, Bear Scotland’s Environmental Manager (copying in David Devine, Margaret Davidson and David Fraser).  

- Reduce speed limit around Clansman Hotel - Transport Scotland noted reluctance to amend speed limit.  Improvements are planned in association with the Clansman.  Noted David Fraser to meet with Fraser Campbell to discuss.  Members suggested that the erection of more signage to direct visitors more clearly to the overflow car parking area might be beneficial and help prevent the number of cars which reverse onto the A82 when they are unable to park closer to the hotel.  It was noted that Fraser Campbell is always most accommodating and willing to take any measures to help increase safety in the area of the Clansman Hotel.  

- Reduced speed limit – Lochend - Transport Scotland again noted reluctance to amend the speed limit in this area, but may in a specific area where conditions change was noted.  Whilst this is not within the GUCC area, it is a known hotspot for accidents, and it was agreed that this stretch of road continue to be monitored.  
Transport Scotland are generally reluctant to reduce speed limits on trunk roads, but it is important that GUCC continue to keep these areas on the agenda, and flag up concerns.  

- Lewiston Junction - The dangers at the Lewiston junction were also discussed, and while a speed survey has already been undertaken and confirmed excessive speeds of vehicles coming into the village, this has not been sufficient for Transport Scotland to agree a reduction of the speed limit in this area.  Councillors are therefore pressing for a further speed survey to be undertaken as well as variable speed limit signage for the approach to this area from the Urquhart Castle side.  

- Members discussed issues relating to safety at the roundabout outside the Pharmacy, and the red paved areas indicate that those are pedestrian crossing points, however traffic can still be moving fast in this area, this is also therefore an area of concern.  

- The repair work to Drum Bridge is currently out to tender.  It was hoped that the uneven drains on the A831 on the approach to Drum Bridge would be rectified when the area is resurfaced following completion of the works by Scottish Water.  

- A safety audit on the path from Drum village to Urquhart Castle is also planned to take place.

Members are all asked to continue monitoring and reporting any noted road issues

b)    A831 Road

The Balnain speed limit is 40mph, however the flashing 30mph sign situated between Hazelbrae and Balnain House is causing some confusion.  It was agreed that this would be flagged with Highland Council.  Action – Dianne Fraser

c)    Other Roads

There was discussion about the increased number of large vehicles using the Culnakirk road, which raised concerns regarding safety and the suitability of the road.  It was agreed to continue to monitor this situation in terms of the condition of the road, as members were pleased to note the improvements which have already taken place in the area.

7. Planning Applications

a) Active Applications

21/03698/PIP – Erection of 7 holiday lodges, service block, paths, Loch Ness Lodge Hotel – it was agreed to respond to this application noting concerns regarding loss of woodland and erosion impact, access to and from the A831, visual impact, drainage, and construction traffic accessing the site.  Action – Fiona Urquhart

21/04156/PIP – Erection of house, land 60m SW of Highmarch, Balnain – noted

b)    Highland Housing Alliance / Old Shop Site

The planning application for the site was rejected by Highland Council Planning Committee.  Highland Housing Alliance are now in the situation where they can either appeal to the Scottish Government, or liaise with the community and work on a different proposal and plan for the area.

c)    Springfield

GUCC had submitted an objection to the latest planning application and a decision was awaited.  

Members discussed the need for affordable housing within the area, there is a known need for affordable housing, but clarity on what this looks like in terms of how many bedrooms such properties have would be good.  Springfield had changed the mix of sizes of affordable houses within their proposed development and it was very much hoped that this was as a result of having referred to Highland Council’s Housing Register.  Any members of the community who are in need of housing, or know of anyone in this category, are strongly encouraged to ensure their details are included on Highland Council’s register.  GUCC realise that various surveys have been undertaken in the past however it would be beneficial to undertake a more comprehensive survey to ensure the needs of the community can be accommodated in any new developments.  

d)    Bhlaraidh Extension

Dianne Fraser confirmed that she had submitted an objection on behalf of GUCC and thanked those members who had provided comments.

Bill Smart confirmed that he would be attending Highland Council’s forthcoming session on how Community Councils can ensure that they are making the most informed responses to wind farm applications within their area.  

e)    Forestry Harvesting

It was noted that there would be traffic management on the A82 in the Grotaig area during October due to extraction of timber.  Details will be added to the local Facebook page.  Action – Dianne Fraser

Resident concerns regarding the possible extraction of timber from private land in the Bunloit area was discussed.  GUCC were not currently aware of any applications to use the Bunloit road for this purpose.  It was noted that Dianne Fraser would follow up this issue with residents out with the meeting.  Concern had also been raised about areas in Divach where it looked like potential areas of felling had been identified.  Action – Dianne Fraser

8.    Village Tree Planting

Communication had been received regarding the local flood defence works and the offer of new tree planting in areas around the village.  Members were in support of this proposal and the details of it.  It was hoped that these would include a mix of native species such as oak, alder and gean, and perhaps blackthorn in areas where larger species would not be appropriate.  Fruit trees could also be a possibility.  Careful consideration would need to be given to the siting of trees in relation to road sight lines as the trees mature, and members were in agreement that the area in front of the pharmacy which was identified for planting would not be appropriate due to visibility for pedestrians in the area.  Dianne Fraser confirmed that she would collate the responses received and send these to David Fraser as requested.  Action – Dianne Fraser

9.    Community Action Plan

Dianne Fraser advised that one response had been received to the tender request for a consultant to assist in preparing the community action plan, this does make it difficult to have a tender process however members of the Steering Group will follow due process and will review the bid received prior to a decision being made.  
An update will be available at the next GUCC meeting.

10.    Flood Prevention Scheme

GUCC members had enjoyed a very successful recent site visit, which had been informative and had helped understand the process of the works being undertaken.  Work on the area behind the Post Office has also now commenced and will be ongoing for some time yet.  Dianne Fraser advised that she would pass details to the High School as further site visits would be an interesting opportunity for any pupils with an interest in engineering.  Action Dianne Fraser

11.    Ward Discretionary Funds

Details relating to Ward Discretionary funding had been circulated to members, this included available funds for playparks, and it was agreed that details should be passed to Gordon Watson and Rachel Hives, both of whom were working on improvements to playparks in the village.  Members discussed the current situation of the Men’s Shed, located alongside Blairbeg Hall temporarily.  It was noted that the recent funding package for repair work to Blairbeg Hall had been unsuccessful and this meant there was no longer the same degree of urgency for the Men’s Shed to find new premises, this was though, something that would be required in the future.  Members discussed the need for additional signage on the footpath leading from the Scotmid area up the back of Balmacaan Road following initial signage to Divach Falls, but no signage to then direct walkers onto Balmacaan Road and on up Divach, as well as a requirement for perhaps an additional map of the paths in the Cover area to be located down at the bottom end of the area, plus improved signage around the area of the Care Centre sign, to direct walkers to Loch Ness.  It was noted that Soirbheas would be undertaking a new project involving signage and these issues should be passed to them for inclusion in that.  The footbath from Balnain along to the entrance into the forest is very overgrown, narrow and muddy and it was hoped that improvements to this could also be included.   Action – Dianne Fraser

12.    Consultations

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, email regarding performance and annual review meeting, details have been circulated to members.

13. Correspondence

MSP communications in relation to local boundary commission consultation.

14. AOCB

GUCC / Strathglass Community Council / Soirbheas Meeting – Meeting scheduled for 11th October.  Dianne Fraser and Bill Smart will attend and update GUCC thereafter.  Action – Dianne Fraser /  Bill Smart

Consultation – Land South of Health Centre – The outcome of the recent consultation was not known, and it was hoped that this would be fed back for inclusion in the Community Action Plan as requested.  

Affric Highlands Event – Some members of GUCC had attended and advised that this had been an excellent presentation event, and it would be interesting to see how it might progress.  

Working from Home – GUCC had been made aware of a new business operating beside residential properties and causing some levels of disturbance.  It was noted that this was not a community council issue, but rather should be directed to the relevant authority within Highland Council.  Action – Dianne Fraser

Etape Loch Ness Community Payment – It was noted that the annual community payment from this event had not been discussed following the 2021 event, and further details should be requested from the organisers.  Action Dianne Fraser

15. Details of Next Meeting
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 25th October at 8pm, details to be confirmed.

There was no further business and the meeting closed at 10.05pm.