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Controversial Highand hotel plan get the go-ahead from council; City hotel boom continues at 'one of most prominent sites in the Highlands'

By Scott Maclennan

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Artist's impression of the proposed hotel.
Artist's impression of the proposed hotel.

Highland Council has approved a major hotel development for vacant land in Inverness's Glebe Street – despite councillors not being entirely happy with the design of the building.

The design of the 175-bed, four-star hotel was in question as to whether it would be appropriate for what was called “one of the most prominent sites in the Highlands”.

Previous proposals by Dutch company Vastint Hospitality to build a hotel on the site of the former swimming pool were thrown out by Highland councillors who objected to the design.

A Scottish Government reporter upheld that decision on appeal, saying the building would be “detrimental” to the city centre townscape.

Revised designs were considered at the south planning applications committee today.

The height of the proposed hotel – set to be operated as part of the Marriot AC brand – has been reduced by one floor while there is an added separate three-floor accommodation block in the grounds.

The Inverness Civic Trust maintained their objection stating the proposals “fall short of meeting the aspirations and requirements” of the Inverness City Centre Development Brief.

But Councillor Ron MacWilliam argued that design is subjective and the positives could trigger a local economic upsurge.

“I have got no objection, I think it will be useful, particularly in the redevelopment of that end of Academy Street,” he said.

Councillor Bill Lobban said: “I would agree with Councillor MacWilliam saying that design is subjective and I hated the last one and the only thing I could politely say is that I hate this a lot less than I did the last one.

“It is not an exceptionally pretty building but it inmeasurably better than the last time around but I don’t think we should be approving applications just because it is an empty site – that is the wrong reason for approving applications.

“It needs to be the right development in the right place, so it is a question of whether it is appropriate for one of the most prominent sites in the Highlands.”

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