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Findrassie Master-planned Neighbourhood, Elgin

Pitgaveny is a 6,000-acre estate in Moray, owned and managed by the Dunbar family. This year, a planning application was made for the first-phase development of 450 houses by Barratt Homes in the new master-planned neighbourhood of Findrassie on the outskirts of Elgin. Over a 25-year period, 1,500 new homes will be developed on the land owned by Pitgaveny, along with commercial premises, a new primary school and community facilities. 

Approach

Previously, it had been normal for individual fields to be sold off and developed on a piecemeal basis with little input from the community. Rebecca and her brother Crinnan realised that this wasn’t resulting in developments that they were proud to show to friends or visitors, so they decided to take a longer-term, strategic approach to create a new neighbourhood in collaboration with the community, Moray Council and other key stakeholders.  

Working with the Savills planning team, various workshops and events were held both before and during the formal planning process which provided opportunities for people from the community, especially young people, to be actively involved in the overall design of the estate.  

“It was really important for us to speak to young people, not just adults. Some of them will live at Findrassie in their own homes in the future. Their input is therefore vital to shape how the neighbourhood develops long-term; and we hope their sense of connection will continue.”  

To provide a route for ongoing engagement, the landowners set up the Findrassie Forum. Now in its third year, attendance has varied but has included members of the community council, local schools, interest groups, statutory bodies, and neighbouring residents and businesses who could be impacted by the development. The meetings include: short updates on progression of the masterplan; ‘themed’ presentations on technical issues such as landscaping, transport or drainage; question and answer discussions; and, as phases of the site develop, updates and discussions detailed planning proposals with the builders.  

Benefits and Lessons Learned

From the landowners’ perspective, Rebecca feels that engagement would have been more difficult to start without their pre-existing relationship with the community. Every two years the Estate holds an open day at which around 3,000 people from the surrounding community come to learn about modern farming. They also host a Schools’ Day for around 200 Academy School pupils each year. These existing connections gave the Estate a strong starting point for getting the community involved in the development at Findrassie. 

Involving the community has helped the estate to understand the community’s needs and priorities, further strengthened relationships and community satisfaction, and led to a more straightforward planning process with very few objections. The Forum has really helped with this and it is anticipated that in time it will evolve into a residents’ forum to retain links and dialogue between new residents and the Estate, who will retain ownership and management of the common areas. 

The main challenge has been to keep things progressing and to maintain interest, with the process taking much longer than they anticipated – eight years so far. A strategic development of this scale was new for everyone and the pace had to be manageable for a very small estate team, with the help of specialist advisors. Open communication and a flexible approach have contributed to success and the Estate hopes that this will continue as the development progresses. 

Find Out More 

Rebecca Russel
Pitgaveny Farms Office
Elgin
Moray
IV30 5PQ 

Email: office@pitgaveny.co.uk 

Telephone: 01343 551436