Huntly Arms Hotel viability study completed

The Huntly Arms Regeneration Project (HARP) team, supported by the Mid Deeside Community Trust, has announced the completion of the Viability Study.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 7:00 am
Huntly Arms Hotel concept sketch (EJ:KN). Study results showed that, almost exclusively, local people would prefer the building to remain as a hotel.

When the project began in March 2020 the Hotel was closed and up for sale. Only the public bar was open but it was closed due to Covid 19 restrictions.

Having demonstrated that the redevelopment of the hotel would be viable, the intent was to proceed to the next stage of a Development Study. This would involve working the design to a more detailed level suitable for full planning permission.

The hotel could then be purchased and redeveloped under Community Ownership. Operation of the hotel was to be targeted at a suitable hospitality company as they would already have the experience required to run the business successfully. The goal was to secure the hotel for the Community retaining it as a hotel thus rescuing it from the path of continuing dereliction.

Plans on proceeding to the next stage have for now been put on hold as the hotel has now been sold to an as yet unknown buyer. The sale represents potentially very good news and the team are glad they made the decision to complete the Viability Study. The community consultation, considerable research and evaluation of design options provides a valuable basis for presenting local support for retaining and using the hotel.

Dave Marshall, Project Lead for HARP said: “We look forward to working with the new owner to support the redevelopment of the Huntly as a viable business for us all.”

The Study was carried out by Community Enterprise (CE), a Scottish social enterprise who specialize in helping communities evaluate options for revitalizing businesses and find solutions for successful economic retention.

Their team of consultants and architects did an excellent job researching and putting together an extremely detailed report showing how the Huntly Arms Hotel could work as a valued and profitable business for everyone.

The results of the Study show almost exclusively that the local people would prefer the building to remain as a hotel with a welcoming public bar, a mid-range family restaurant with affordable accommodation and a function room. Interestingly, one point that kept coming up was the hope that the castellated roof line be replaced with something more in keeping with the original design. Here’s hoping the new owners feel the same.

Alan Emslie, Chair of Mid Deeside Community Trust added: “We would like to extend our appreciation to the contributions of our funders, namely the Architectural Heritage Fund, Marr Area Partnership and the Aberdeenshire Economic Development Fund. Thank you also for the pledges made by the Mid-Deeside Community Council and Mid-Deeside Community Trust. Without their support the study would not have occurred and the future possibilities for the building would not have been developed”.

Claire Fraser for HARP said: “We hope the new owners will be interested to see what the HARP team and CE have put together as it is our wish to see the hotel doors open once again. Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey and to those who came and spoke to us at the Farmer’s Market to give us your views. Anyone who wishes further information can contact us through Mid-Deeside Community Trust”.