Plans for a £3.5 million care home for the elderly in Fortrose have won overwhelming backing from the local community according to a new opinion poll.
Polling experts Survation spoke to 543 adults in the Black Isle, Dingwall & Seaforth and Cromarty Firth council wards to gauge local attitudes to the proposed development by independent care home provider Parklands Group.
The company submitted its planning application last autumn and The Highland Council is expected to vote on the issue in the coming weeks. If approved, Parklands plans to create 50 full time equivalent jobs, generating £1 million for the local economy.
In Black Isle ward, 56% said the application should be accepted while only 9% felt it should be rejected (35% didn’t know). Within the IV10 postcode area, which includes Fortrose and Rosemarkie, 57% favoured approval while 22% felt it should be rejected (20% didn’t know).
In every age group, more people felt the application should be approved than rejected. Support was strongest among the 55+ age group, with 63% backing the application.
The poll also found that almost 1 in 4 people in the IV10 postcode area had experienced some difficulty trying to secure residential care for themselves or an elderly relative.
The site chosen for the care home – on Ness Road – is not zoned for development in the recently adopted local development plan. However, the poll found that more people felt that the building of a care home was more important than the preservation of green belt land. In the Black Isle ward, 58% felt a care home was more important, while 21% favoured preservation of the green belt.
Ron Taylor, Managing Director of Parklands Group, welcomed the results of the opinion poll and said Parklands was ready to play its part in tackling what Black Isle Cares has described as a “crisis” in elderly care on the Black Isle.
The poll mirrors the public response shown on The Highland Council website which records a more than 2:1 majority in favour of the development.
Mr Taylor said: “This poll, by one of the UK’s leading polling agencies, shows a clear majority of people believe our application should be accepted. It confirms what we have felt for some time and shows there is strong local backing for our investment plan across the Black Isle and neighbouring areas. It shows that the closure of care facilities in the area is beginning to have an effect, with almost one in four people surveyed in the Fortrose and Rosemarkie areas encountering difficulty accessing care for themselves or an elderly relative. And it makes it clear that more people in the community believe that a care home is more important than preserving lines on a map in the local development plan, a plan which in any case can be set aside when community care needs are at stake.”
He added: “The public have said very clearly that they want action now to reverse the crisis in elderly care on the Black Isle. The community need for a care home must surely outweigh any other considerations. We are ready to play our part by investing in a new, state of the art care home for the area and we are ready to start work now.”
Notes to the Editor
Survation polled 543 residents of the Black Isle, Dingwall & Seaforth and Cromarty Firth electoral wards, aged 18+, on the 25th February 2016. The survey was conducted via telephone. Sampling priority was given to those in the IV10 postcode area, followed by those in Black Isle ward, due to their proximity to the site in question. Of the 543 residents, 375 live in Black Isle ward.
Full, weighted data tables for the poll are available here>
To view public responses to The Highland Council planning portal, click here>