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Bid for hotel, shops and holiday accommodation in heart of Aviemore is refused

By Gavin Musgrove

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The site for the proposed development at the heart of Aviemore was rejected.
The site for the proposed development at the heart of Aviemore was rejected.

Big money plans for a new hotel, self-catering holiday apartments and shops in the centre of Aviemore have been refused after being described as 'overpowering' and 'a step too far'.

Members of the Cairngorms National Park Authority's planning committee turned down the application by 9-6 votes with one abstention this lunchtime after a debate lasting 90 minutes.

Planners had recommended approval but concerns were expressed during the meeting over the lack of parking provision and that the constructions would lead to the site being over-developed.

Fears were also aired that such an addition would exacerbate existing traffic congestion on Grampian Road, the village's only thoroughfare.

The proposals for the heart of the village had included a three-storey 83-bedroom hotel, 23 two and three-bedroom self-catering holiday apartments, six shops and parking for 86 cars including an underground facility on the now vacant 0.8 hectare central site fronting onto the main street.

The proposal by Upland Developments Ltd was earmarked for the brownfield site which used to be home to the Victorian villa Laurel Bank, Scouts hut and a family funfair.

Planning committee members had carried out an inspection of the site at 9.30am ahead of the planning meeting starting at 11am.

The proposed hotel (right) and shops with holiday accommodation (left).
The proposed hotel (right) and shops with holiday accommodation (left).

Fiona MacLean moved the amendment for refusal, seconded by Deidrie Falconer, after a lengthy discussion.

Ms MacLean had said earlier in the debate: "Having been on the site visit, seen the plans and heard the discussion – to me I think it is a step too far. I can't believe how high the (proposed) hotel is... it seems so out of keeping.

"I appreciate that the centre of Aviemore is becoming more and more industrialised but I do think that this has gone too far."

Committee member Peter Argyle said: "What we have here is too much and I think that is at the root of the problem... What this shows is that in order for it to be viable it will be overpowering in all kinds of ways and that is a circle that can not be squared."

There was a slight revision to the motion for approval for CNPA planning officers to discuss the creation of a parking management plan with the developer for the spaces being proposed.

It had seemed the application would be comprehensively defeated from the tone of the comments for most of the planning meeting but in the end the margin to reject was fairly narrow.

CNPA planners had pointed out that although Highland Council's transport planning team had objected over traffic issues they had not provided any solutions.

There were also remaining objections from SEPA and the local authority over flooding concerns.

Planning officers pointed out that the site had never been known to flood.

Aviemore Community Council has changed its stance and objected to the application as they had seen 'little evidence' their previous concerns have been address by the company.

Chairman Peter Long had stated: “This is a large-scale development which could permanently and irrevocably change the character of the village centre.

“The proposals seem to be focused solely on providing facilities for visitors.

“There is nothing here for local people – it should be noted that there are already several vacant shop premises in the village and that many existing local businesses are already struggling to attract staff, due in part to the local housing crisis.

"Such a development can only exacerbate these issues.”

Emma Bryce, CNPA planning manager, had stated in her report going before the committee that the development would 'contribute to the vitality and viability of the existing town centre'.

David Cameron, owner of Upland Developments Ltd, has been contacted for comment and to see if the company plans to appeal the decision.

More on this story in next week's Strathy

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