Residents raise concern at sale of hotel

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Residents in Torhpins have slammed plans which could see the villages only hotel converted into a private dwelling accommodation.

The owners of The Learny Arms, which has been up for sale for two and a half years, have agreed the sale of the business due to a considerable decline in profitability.

Facebook page ‘Torphins Residents’, which currently has over 130 ‘friends’, contacted The Piper to express their worries.

“Planning permission for change of use has been submitted and the prospective buyer has made it clear that he has no interest in keeping it as a hotel.

“The current owners admit that business has been more difficult in recent times but still turning a profit.”

The owners of the hotel did not wish to comment on wether the business was still in profit.

“The point of this page is not to point the finger at what they have done wrong etc but to try and save a local interest that means so much to people in the village. “In less than 12 hours 177 people have liked the page- say no to change of use.

“On the council planning site where people can support or object to the plans a gentleman has pointed out that he objects on the basis that he put forward an offer to the current owners to keep it as a hotel to which they agreed then pulled out of last minute.

“It has been suggested that they pulled out because of the offer from the current buyer who wants to make it a private dwelling house.”

The aforementioned gentleman is Lewis Paterson of Bridge of Don.

In his Public comment, Mr Paterson expressed his objections to the proposal as a member of the public.

“I very recently made an offer to buy this business and continue it as a hotel.

“The deal was agreed in principle, however the seller pulled out at the last minute.

“This will result in the loss of local jobs, and a place for the local community to socialise and relax.

“As the only licensed property in the village trading after 5pm I feel that the loss of this business will have a detrimental effect on the local area.”

Mr Paterson Continued: “Having viewed the businesses previous trading figures, it is in my opinion that the business is healthy.

“While the business is run by experienced operators, the building has been severely neglected and I feel that it could be run in a better manner.

“I’m sure that with sufficient investment and effort the business could be given a new lease of life and trade as a prosperous asset of the local community.”

Alex Shepard, the current applicant, has said in his supporting statement that the current owners can no longer make the business viable.

“The price has been reduced on several occasions in an effort to attract someone, but to no avail.

“The turnover has dropped substantially for a variety of reasons.

“They (the owners) are desperate to sell and move on with their lives.

“It is their intention to cease trading imminently (July 2015 ).

“I have had an offer accepted for the property conditionally on me obtaining consent for change of use to a house for my own use.

“I have no interest or experience in running a hotel.

“The property is B listed, it lends itself to be turned into a house as the existing layout works well.”

The application is currently open for public comment but Aberdeenshire Council’s planning department have confirmed the plans will not be heard at the next Area Committee meeting, August 18, but possibly the following meeting.