Inchmarlo plan focus of meeting

Councillors met earlier this week for a pre-determination hearing regarding proposals for a tourism, leisure, business and residential development at Inchmarlo.

The hearing was hosted by the Marr Area Committee and took place on Tuesday in the gym hall of Banchory Primary School.

The session was arranged to hear from various interested parties in connection with the proposals, but no decision was taken on the night.

Applicant Frank Burnett Ltd is seeking planning permission in principle for the proposed development.

The scheme includes the development of a 70-75 bedroom hotel and leisure centre, new sports facilities, an ‘invitational cook school’, 80 houses, and business units and training facility.

In line with pre-determination hearing guidance, members of the public were welcome to attend Tuesday’s hearing.

However, only the applicant, consultees and those who had previously submitted a request to speak at the hearing were allowed to contribute.

Members of the committee were told that environmental planners find the proposals “unacceptable” as it “would result in the loss of a significant amount of woodland and associated habitat”.

Forestry Commission Scotland highlighted “the species of trees to be removed comprise of Scots pine and Norway spruce which offer the best habitat and food resource for red squirrels” – it did not however object to the proposals.

The council’s housing and social work department said there was a “high demand” for affordable housing in the area and that the site could provide twenty five affordable homes.

Scottish Enterprise said that the application would be a “major step forward” for the area if it was given approval.

Initial plans for a similar facility were thrown out at a full Aberdeenshire Council meeting earlier this year despite winning the backing of the Marr area committee.

Councillors in the area were split over the decision. Peter Argyle, councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside believed the resort would benefit the Deeside area. Banchory councillor Jill Webster was unsure about the housing development but supported other aspects while councillors Linda Clark and Karen Clark were firmly against the plans.

According to the developer the project would create up to one hundred full-time jobs and bring millions of pounds to the local economy.

A report with a recommendation from planning officers will now be brought before a future meeting of the Marr Area Committee for discussion.

The views of the committee will then be reported to a subsequent meeting of the full Aberdeenshire Council for a final decision.