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Historic smithy at risk of collapse set to be saved by café conversion after Highland Council approves plans for the Black Isle site

By Philip Murray

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A DERELICT former smithy building on a Black Isle estate is set for a new life as a café after Highland Council approved plans for its phoenix-like restoration.

The former smithy building at Rosehaugh Mains in the Rosehaugh Estate, which dates back to the mid-19th century, has lain derelict for a number of years and is at risk of collapse in the near future without action to restore it.

The work is part of wider plans by Broadland Properties for the smithy and a nearby group of buildings – including steading, granary and stables – which could result in their transformation into a mix of houses, flats, workshops, a retail unit, office space and children's nursery.

The proposals are part of an "estate-wide masterplan" aimed at upgrading buildings and "diversifying" the estate's business portfolio.

In supporting material submitted alongside the plan, the applicant envisages the new café as being used by possible office workers in the wider Rosehaugh Mains building group, as well as by "the many people who come to the estate to walk from Avoch and further afield".

The smithy will be extended to accommodate kitchen and toilet block but will be built in the same timber and corrugated iron roof style as the original extension and occupy a similar footprint.

Responding to the application, Historic Environment Scotland said: "The building has been derelict for some time, its fabric is now failing and repairs are urgently required both internally and externally.

"The current proposals offer the opportunity to give this characterful building a viable new use, promote other investment into the estate and encourage more visitors to experience the designed landscape."

Approving the application, Highland Council planning officer Norman Brockie said: "The existing Smithy building is in an extremely poor state and will likely be completely collapsed in a few years if left to decay; this proposal is therefore welcomed in principle, to avoid the complete loss of a heritage building.

"The proposed change of use to a café is considered to be acceptable in this estate context, either as a stand-alone development or associated to the re-development of the granary and steading buildings.

"The diversification of the rural economy is to be welcomed, particularly for un-used/derelict historic buildings; the estate is already a popular recreational destination for local people and this proposal will enhance both their amenity and the estate’s flexible/sustainable future."

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