Resort given backing

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Plans for a £100m golf and tourism resort in Royal Deeside have been backed by councillors.

The luxury tourist resort at Inchmarlo, near Banchory, could create up to 100 jobs and bring millions of pounds into the local economy.

The development was backed by councillors after a four-hour meeting last week.

Members voted to pass the plans by 30 votes against 23 who wanted to defer the plans.

The original plans, by Frank Burnett Ltd, were rejected at a full council meeting earlier this year, despite the backing of the local area committee.

The site already features an 18-hole golf course, nine-hole golf course and driving range.

A five-star hotel, cookery school and 80 houses will be constructed under the new plans, which also include an upgrade for the golf courses.

The original plans had included a Nick Nairn cookery school but under new proposals it will be branded an “invitational” cookery school and feature guests chefs, after the celebrity chef announced plans to open his facility in Aberdeen.

A new community hall, small business units and all-weather sports pitch will also be built at the site.

The approval, granted in principle, has been made subject to a long list of conditions.

Banchory and Mid-Deeside councillor Jill Webster said the development would be a “fantastic asset” to the area.

“This wasn’t just a five star hotel, spa, swimming pool and invitational cook school development but also included leisure facilities which the community have been crying out for for ages,” she said.

“This would be a fantastic asset for Banchory, Deeside and Aberdeenshire and the benefit to the local economy and the tourist industry were clearly outlined in the planning papers.

“Roads access issues have not yet been satisfactorily resolved and so I proposed a further condition to ensure that alternative proposals were brought forward at the detailed stage. These will be subject to consultation and so there will be plenty of opportunity for local residents to contribute to the plans.”

Mrs Webster added: “It’s an ambitious and visionary project being proposed by local people and I felt the applicants should be afforded the opportunity to further develop the plans and not be knocked back at this early stage in the process.”

Fellow Banchory and Mid-Deeside councillors Karen Clark and Linda Clark moved to reject the plans, but both withdrew their motion in favour of deferring the plans to allow the developer and planners to come forward with more information regarding access to the site and to clarify other issue.

Speaking after the vote, councillor Karen Clark said: “I remain concerned about this application and clearly many of my colleagues believed there were still unanswered questions about the development, particularly around its economic justification and why 80 houses are needed to support the proposal.

“It is on record that I have never opposed the idea of a five star hotel in Banchory but if it means tearing up the Local Development Plan, compromising on road safety and urbanising a rural environment then I find this unacceptable.

“Much is being made about the strict conditions which have now been attached but it must not be forgotten that the original application was for 125 houses and only a serviced site for a future hotel.

“We now have an improved package of elements with robust conditions only thanks to those of us who stood up and opposed it the last time. I will be closely monitoring the next stage in the planning process and ensure that crucial conditions such as the roads and the commitment to build the hotel and leisure facilities in the first phase will be strictly adhered to.”

Developer Stan Troup said he was delighted with the decision but added that there was still a lot of work to be done.

Councillors Karen Clark and Linda Clark have both written letters to the Piper about the development (Page 23).

What do you think about the decision to approve the plans? Write to us or send an email at news@deesidepiper.com