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Plans for holiday development on banks of River Beauly lodged by Stagecoach bus tycoon Dame Ann Gloag

By Val Sweeney

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A masterplan for the proposed woodland visitor accommodation on Beaufort Castle estate. Picture: Gary Anthony.
A masterplan for the proposed woodland visitor accommodation on Beaufort Castle estate. Picture: Gary Anthony.

A PROPOSED woodland holiday development by business tycoon Dame Ann Gloag has run into fierce opposition from the nearby community and fishing interests.

A planning in principle application for the project on her estate at Beaufort Castle near Beauly, including 50 lodges and a glamping field plus a small retail area and café, was recently lodged with Highland Council stating it would meet the demand for more visitor accommodation and bring economic benefits for the local area.

But it has sparked strongly-worded objections from Kiltarlity Community Council, the Beauly Fishing Syndicate and individual residents who are worried about the risk of antisocial behaviour, impact on road safety and the environment, scale and “Center Parcs type of development” at the site located between the River Beauly and the A833.

In a catalogue of concerns, the community council contends it has not been sent plans for the site and that the area does not need another holiday camp.

“Kiltarlity has nearly doubled in size in the last three years and yet there is no improvement to the facilities of the village,” it states.

“This is just another development that will bring no benefit to the community and its people.”

It is particularly concerned about the proposed access which it describes as “very dangerous”.

“With tourists and some not used to driving on the British side of the road there could be catastrophic consequences for locals,” the submission states.

The Beauly Fishing Syndicate, an association of 130 time-share members, owns the river bed and salmon fishing rights on the Lower Beauly beat of the River Beauly next to the proposed site.

It does not believe the environmental impacts on all neighbouring land uses and key planning considerations have been fully assessed and is concerned about the potential visual, noise and ecological impacts.

It fears a proposed footpath near the river bank will encourage irresponsible access to the river and increase the risk of disturbance and interference such as swimming by people and dogs, stick and stone throwing and access with kayaks.

“The proposed camping area, close to the river, when taken together with proposed fire pits, risks the large-scale congregation of people and parties with associated disturbance, including amplified music, which is incompatible with this undeveloped rural location,” it continues, adding the proposed location of café/bar close to the river bank and historic woodland significantly increases the risk of disturbance.

Belladrum resident Mrs P Hunt was also among the objectors, stating: “I feel this Center Parcs type of development is utterly unsuited to the character of the area, will cause huge disruption and traffic danger, and should be rejected.”

Dame Ann Gloag.
Dame Ann Gloag.

The planning application has been lodged under the name of Edinburgh-based Gloag Investments, of which Mrs Gloag is a director, and is being handled by Angus Dodds of Savills Planning in Edinburgh.

“After a well-attended community consultation last autumn, we are pleased there is continued community engagement on the project,” Mr Dodds said.

“We note a small number of representations received to date and most of the concerns raised are consistent with what we heard back in the autumn.”

He said it was a continuing process.

Mrs Gloag, who co-founded the international Stagecoach transport group with her brother Sir Brian Souter, bought Beaufort Castle in 1995.

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