Holiday complex cash crisis

An application has been made to Aberdeenshire Council for removal of the planning conditions
An application has been made to Aberdeenshire Council for removal of the planning conditions

A Deeside holiday complex is still struggling six years after the collapse of an associated golf course centre.

The Queens Court villa development at Inchmarlo has continued to suffer serious financial losses following the 2013 liquidation of Inchmarlo Golf Centre Ltd, which operated an 18-hole and 9-hole golf course and driving range facilities at the site on the outskirts of Banchory.

Now, in a desperate bid to safeguard the sustainability of the complex, villa owners are seeking consent to scrap conditions limiting the duration of stay for visitors.

The Inchmarlo Planning Application Group represents a consortium of villa owners comprising private individuals and limited companies who – combined – have control over 32 of the 42 villas at Queens Court.

It has tabled an application to Aberdeenshire Council for the removal of planning conditions which currently limit all holiday lets to a period of six weeks at any one time, and prohibits a return within six weeks of leaving. The clause also prevents the holiday units from being used as domestic houses without the prior express planning permission of the planning authority.

In a supporting statement, agents for the group Ryden say: “In early 2013, following a period of trading difficulties, Inchmarlo Golf Centre was placed into liquidation and the courses closed.

“Whilst the holiday villas remained open, all management and operational running of the villas by Inchmarlo ceased and keys were handed back to the owners.

“Since then, this has resulted in serious implications for the viability and success of the holiday villas.”

They add that the effect of approval of the three applications would allow the villas to operate outwith the occupancy burdens presently placed upon them.

The agents continue: “Their use will remain residential, however they will be afforded the flexibility to be occupied on a more permanent basis.

“This would provide their owners the ability to offer the properties on a longer term lease, for permanent occupation or, indeed, continue to be let out on a short term basis and they could be marketed accordingly.”

In a financial document prepared by Gavin Bain & Co, Ryden claim some owners have already been flouting the restrictive conditions in a bid to stave of financial losses.

The agents say: “Typically, those which operate outwith the occupancy restriction requirements have performed better financially than those who have attempted to operate in compliance.

“What was initially presented as an attractive investment for the owners now represents an unprofitable liability for some.

“It is absolutely clear that the Queens Court development no longer functions as the holiday resort originally assessed and approved.

“The villas have been faced with significant financial difficulties following the cessation of IGCL and the golf-related tourism draw and would therefore request that Aberdeenshire Council apply a degree of pragmatism and flexibility in support of these applications.”