RESIDENTS have started moving in to what is claimed to be the first new town to be built in Scotland for 50 years.

Developers say Tornagrain, which is being created on farmland near Inverness, will have the appearance of a historic market town - with cars taking a back seat to character, pedestrians and cyclists.

It is the first step in creating what developer Moray Estates hope will ultimately become a community of 12,000 people - approximately the same size as Saltcoats, North Ayrshire.

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The concept, has been more than a decade in the making, and will take another 50 to 60 years to complete, developers say.

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Led by landowner the Earl of Moray (abov), the project will see around 5000 homes - from large town houses to flats - created between Inverness and Nairn.

Scotland's newest town is modelled on historic boroughs of the 18th and 19th centuries - before the first cars had been developed.

Andrew Howard, managing director of Moray Estates said: “What we did in establishing how we would go about creating a new town, was to look at historic communities, that appeared to have faired well and remained adaptable and suited modern life.

“What we discovered was a lot of the things that characterised communities from before the era of the car when replicated in the current era also made very robust and attractive communities.

“In concept, what we are trying to do is create what you might commonly refer to as a small market town, so it has got a distinct centre, you have your shops and commercial activity there, it is quite compact and the streets are designed for character and pedestrians and cyclists.

"You can have cars on them, but they haven’t been designed with the geometery and the speed and the visibility of the car in mind.”

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Madeline and Jonathan Hewitt, along with daughter Millie, have moved into their new house in the Tornagrain development

Construction of the first phase of 200 homes at Tornagrain is well under way.

Tornagrain, will start life as a village, and would evolve into a new town including some 200 acres of parks and open spaces, three primary schools and one secondary school.

Shops, offices, libraries, churches, healthcare and leisure facilities and community halls all form part of the blueprint. Highland Council’s planning committee backed the project five years ago.

But it fuelled a row when councillors were told that if they refused permission, developers would appeal and would be likely to win, with huge costs having to be borne by the authority.

This was because a new town was contained in the council’s blueprint for future development.

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An artist’s impression of homes in the first new town in Scotland for 50 years

It was approved despite objections from four community councils and 53 individuals and groups amid fears of extra traffic using the A96. Community councils for Westhill, Croy and Culloden Moor, Cawdor and West Nairnshire, and Nairn River were anxious over the potential loss of agricultural land.