The Deeside area is in danger of losing out on a top cookery school after building plans were rejected by Aberdeenshire council.
Nick Nairn had hoped to open a new cookery school as part of the Frank Burnett Ltd development on the Inchmarlo golf resort, which also included a luxury hotel and 125 houses.
Despite the plans being recommended for approval, councillors voted 40-20 in favour of an amendment to refuse planning permission.
The refusal has led Nairn to look at options elsewhere in the North-east.
A spokeswoman for the Nick Nairn cook school said: “We are really disappointed with the decision of Aberdeenshire council. The process has taken a long time and to be refused planning permission is a real blow but Nick is still committed to opening a new school in the North-east.”
The school are aiming to have a site secured by next year.
She added: “We are keeping our options open and have already started looking at slightly more urban sites because we would love to have somewhere within the next 12 months.
“Inchmarlo is a great location and ticks all the boxes. It was where where our hearts were set but with the decision last week it looks ever more likely we will have to find another location.”
When contacted by the Piper, Stan Troup, chairman of Frank Burnett Ltd said: “Naturally we are disappointed and having been endorsed by the Marr Area it was unexpected but you can never be 100% certain.
“We have to accept these decisions irrespective of our own views and conclusions as to the essence of the debate in council chambers.
Mr Troup explained that the group has received support from a number of people in the area since last week’s decision.
He added: “We have been immensely encouraged by the reaction of many local people both as individuals and from the business sector and while it would be wrong to interpret this as totally representative it is perhaps indicative that many saw merit in our application.”
Mr Troup added that the company would now take their time to consider its options.
Councillors in the area were split over the decision. Peter Argyle, councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside said: “I believe that this was a good application for a project that would have delivered significant benefits to Banchory and to Deeside as a whole.
“Concerns over issues such as road or pedestrian access, landscaping and the phasing of the development - which I recognise were real concerns - could have been addressed through properly worded and robust conditions.”
Banchory councillor Jill Webster was unsure about the housing development but supported other aspects.
Councillors Linda Clark and Karen Clark however were firmly against the plans. Karen Clark has written a letter to the Piper (Page 32) which explains her decision to vote for the refusal of the site.
Do you think Aberdeenshire council made the right decision to refuse the application? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.