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Community councillor backs sale of housing site at Castletown

By Gordon Calder

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A CASTLETOWN community councillor has given his backing to the sale of a site earmarked for a housing project on the outskirts of the village.

Billy Dunbar, the chairman of the local community council, would like to see the area developed.

Scotia Homes Ltd, which is based in Aberdeenshire, intended to convert old buildings at Castlehill and land nearby into 34 homes.

The company acquired the site a number of years ago but put its plans on hold at the time of the economic crash in 2008. It said it was keen to go ahead with the proposal when the market conditions were right but has now decided to put the site up for sale.

Part of the buildings at Castlehill planned for development by Scotia Homes
Part of the buildings at Castlehill planned for development by Scotia Homes

Mr Dunbar said: "If someone buys it and spends money on it, it can only be good for the village. Anything that brings in investment and jobs is to be welcome."

He is unaware of any interest being expressed so far but feels that it would need " a big conglomerate" to take on the development.

"It would be good to see things being renovated there," added Mr Dunbar who thinks Caithness needs more investment to counter the economic impact the rundown of Dounreay will have on the area.

Scotia Homes confirmed the site has been put up for sale but it is understood no closing date or price has been set.

The company's land and planning manager, Martin Forbes, said: "Development in Caithness is currently outwith our area of operation, therefore the options under consideration for the site at Castletown include marketing it for sale. In this regard we have received a number of positive enquiries from prospective purchasers. Consideration of these is ongoing."

He also pointed out that Scotia Homes will continue to work with Highland Council regards the current planning approvals and will review all options.

The sale is being handled by Bidwells in Inverness. As reported in Friday's John O' Groat Journal, its website describes the site as consisting of a range of traditional buildings with an area of arable land immediately adjacent, extending to approximately 6.67 acres (2.7 hectares).

Bidwells says that Castlehill lies within 700 metres of "the hugely popular" North Coast 500 route which has increased the number of visitors to the area.

"There is scope for a variety of uses that will benefit from the stunning surroundings and rich cultural heritage that are drawing increasing numbers of visitors to the area."

The website adds: "Castlehill benefits from planning consent for conversion of the steading to form six residential dwellings and the erection of 28 further residential properties. There has also previously been consent obtained for an element of retail on the site."

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