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Dingwall hotel expansion gets the go-ahead after appeal to Scottish Government

By Hector MacKenzie

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The 1960s-era Waverley Inn is next to one of the oldest buildings in the town.
The 1960s-era Waverley Inn is next to one of the oldest buildings in the town.

A ROSS-SHIRE hotel development branded a "monstrosity" by critics and thrown out by the local authority has been given the go-ahead on appeal to the Scottish Government.

G&M Properties' plans to extend the Waverley Inn in Dingwall with an additional eight bedrooms infuriated neighbours on Castle Street which boasts some of the town's oldest and most attractive properties, some afforded listed building status.

Dingwall Community Council also objected, saying the 1960s-era building jars with the adjacent conservation area and the rest of the street.

One objector said the value of his listed property had already been "severely affected".

And another said the "monstrosity" should be demolished rather than extended.

Objector David Campbell was concerned about the "complete loss of privacy" for his garden and said there was already a problem with street parking because of lorries, vans and buses servicing the hotel.

Highland Council planners though had recommended approval saying that while the development was "no great beauty" the extension was in line wit the existing appearance.

But when it was thrown out by councillors in September last year, councillor Kirsteen Currie said she was "really uneasy" with the plans and voiced concerns that "this isn't a touism development for the future". North planning applications committee chairwoman Maxine Smith successfully moved it be refused at that time.

G&M Properties , which appealed to the Scottish Government, said the proposal to extend it to a 28-bedroom facility was good for the town. It said: "Since opening our doors, we have been good for the economy of Dingwall. As we only provide breakfast, guests go out to eat and explore the town centre, visiting the shops, bars, restaurants, local museums and the monument. Our aim is to attract more people to Dingwall which will therefore help to increase the economy of the area."

Scottish Government Reporter Andrew Fleming, who visited the site last month and took time to look at it from inside a number of neighbouring properties, this week issued a decision giving it the go-ahead.

He noted its proximity to the town centre, train station and bus services and said it "would bring more people into the town centre and provide the opportunity for increased trade for the businesses and services located in the town centre".

He said the planned extension is in line with the 1960s building.

Referring to adjacent St Ninians, a category B listed building dating to the early 19th century, he said its setting had already been altered by the development of a 1960s' building to the south. And that was true too of the conservation area boundary.

On concerns about noise and disturbance, he said the proposed use of the hotel "would not be expected to result in a significant level of intrusive noise or disturbance during antisocial hours and noted parking enforcement "is a matter for the council".

He said the development would bring more people into the town centre "benefitting the local shops and services".

In supporting the appeal, he imposed conditions that windows on the north elevation overlooking garden space be non-opening and obscure glazed to maintain privacy of neighbours.The permission will last for a period if three years and the planning authority kept informed of developments.

Objector David Campbell admitted disappointment and said: "The reporter has done the best of a bad job. It's my neighbours I feel most sorry for."

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