Big budget plans for a new hotel, self-catering holiday apartments and shops in central Aviemore have been turned down after being described as ‘overwhelming’ and ‘a step too far’.
Members of the Cairngorms National Park Authority Planning Committee rejected the application by 9 votes to 6 and one abstention this lunchtime after a 90 minute debate.
The planners had recommended approval, but concerns were raised at the meeting about the lack of parking spaces and that the constructions would lead to excessive development of the site.
Concerns were also expressed that such an addition would aggravate existing traffic congestion on Grampian Road, the village’s only thoroughfare.
Proposals for the heart of the village included an 83-bedroom three-storey hotel, 23 self-contained two- and three-bedroom holiday apartments, six shops and parking for 86 cars, including an underground facility at the central site of 0.8 hectare now vacant. overlooking the main street.
Upland Developments Ltd’s proposal was for the brownfield site that once housed the Laurel Bank Victorian villa, the Boy Scouts hut and a family funfair.
Members of the planning committee had conducted a site inspection at 9:30 a.m. prior to the planning meeting beginning at 11 a.m.
Fiona MacLean moved the amendment for refusal, seconded by Deidrie Falconer, after a long discussion.
Ms MacLean said earlier in the debate: “Having been on the site visit, seen the plans and heard the discussion – for me I think that’s a step too far. I can’t believe how high the The (proposed) hotel is… it seems so out of place.
“I appreciate that the center of Aviemore is becoming more and more industrialized, but I think it’s gone too far.”
Committee member Peter Argyle said: ‘What we have here is too much and I think that’s at the root of the problem… What it shows is that for it to be viable, it will be overwhelming in all sorts of ways and it is a circle that cannot be squared.”
There was a slight revision to the approval motion for CNPA planning officers to discuss the creation of a parking management plan with the developer for the proposed spaces.
It had looked like the application would be completely rejected based on the tone of the comments for most of the planning meeting, but in the end, the margin of rejection was pretty narrow.
CNPA planners had pointed out that although the Highland Council transport planning team opposed the traffic problems, they had not provided any solutions.
There were also still objections from SEPA and the local authority regarding the flooding issues.
Planning officers pointed out that the site had never been flooded.
Aviemore Community Council changed their position and opposed the request, as they had seen ‘little evidence’ that their earlier concerns had been addressed by the company.
Chairman Peter Long said: “This is a large scale development which could permanently and irrevocably change the character of the village centre.
“The proposals seem to focus solely on providing facilities for visitors.
“There is nothing here for locals – it should be noted that there are already several vacant commercial premises in the village and many existing local businesses are already struggling to attract staff, partly due to the local housing crisis.
“Such a development can only exacerbate these problems.”
Emma Bryce, CNPA’s planning officer, had said in her report to the committee that the development would “contribute to the vitality and viability of the existing town centre.”
David Cameron, owner of Upland Developments Ltd, has been contacted for comment and to see if the company plans to appeal the decision.
More on this story in next week’s Strathy