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PICTURES: Big money plans for new hotel, holiday apartments and shops in Aviemore recommended for approval

By Gavin Musgrove

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The site which has become an eyesore in the centre of Aviemore.
The site which has become an eyesore in the centre of Aviemore.

Long-awaited plans for a major development in the heart of Aviemore including a large hotel, holiday apartments and retail units are being recommended for approval despite concerns it could ‘permanently and irrevocably change’ the village’s character.

The proposal by Upland Developments Ltd will be considered tomorrow by Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) planning committee members for the brownfield site which used to be home to the Victorian villa Laurel Bank, Scouts hut and a family funfair.

Key issues being raised by objectors – which include the village’s community council – are:

• The scale of the development;

• The provision of holiday accommodation rather than local affordable homes.

• Increase traffic congestion on Grampian Road.

• The impact on the integrity of the protected Milton Burn.

CNPA planning officers have acknowledged the development will be “individual in character” but believe it will fit in with its busy village centre location.

The proposal is for 23 two and three-bedroom self-catering holiday apartments, six shops, a three-storey 83-bedroom hotel and parking for 86 cars including an underground facility on the now vacant 0.8 hectare central site fronting onto Aviemore’s main street.

Click here for images of the proposed hotel, holiday apartments and shops

There were plans for a retail complex on the same site by village businessman Alistair Grant in the mid- 2000s but they never materialised.

Emma Bryce, CNPA planning manager, states in her report that the development will “contribute to the vitality and viability of the existing town centre”.

She continues: “It is recognised this development will be individual in character and appearance and will be in contrast to the local landscape pattern and linear streetscape, although the Grampian Road frontage of Aviemore already has a wide variety of forms of development in the vicinity.

“The most significant difference in the proposed development is from the height of buildings which are a storey or more higher than most buildings nearby, though not inconsistent with a busy town centre location.

“The height of buildings will inevitably have some impact on views across the site towards the hills west of the A9.

“The site is, however, identified for a mixed-used development opportunity within the adopted Local Development Plan, and therefore any future redevelopment on this prominent central location would be expected to result in new forms of development that would change the character of the streetscape.”

Ms Bryce said that the design ethos is to create a focal point in Aviemore.

She states: “The development will introduce uses that are intended to attract people – tourist accommodation, restaurants, cafés and shops – and includes a public amenity space fronting Grampian Road.

A sign showing off a now revised plan for the development.
A sign showing off a now revised plan for the development.

“It is envisaged that this will evolve into a ‘people gathering point’ which in turn will create a formal hub within the centre of the village.”

But Aviemore Community Council has changed its stance and is now opposing the application as they have seen “little evidence” their previous concerns have been address by the company.

Chairman Peter Long states: “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.”

Highland Council’s transport planning team has maintained several concerns and said the full vehicular impact has not been properly assessed.

They claim the development will “create an unpleasant environment for pedestrians and cyclists and will discourage active travel”.

Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group points out Milton Burn is used by otters, lamprey, salmonids and supports breeding amphibians.

Otters are know to use the Milton Burn. Picture: Zoe Gray.
Otters are know to use the Milton Burn. Picture: Zoe Gray.

Chairman Gus Jones said: “The built footprint of the development site is too close to the important water course of the Milton Burn which supports significant biodiversity.

“We consider there should be a substantially larger separation between the burn and built development.”

Some 18 letters of objections have been submitted with some based on circular correspondence calling on the “central apartments to be reserved for those who live and work here”.

On this issue, Ms Bryce states other housing sites allocated in the LDP “will ensure appropriate housing, including affordable housing, will be delivered which meets local community needs”.

A 20-minute site visit will be carried out by planning committee members ahead of the meeting.

The full planning paper can be read here including objections

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