Auchenblae hotel SET to rise from the ashes?

FIREFIGHTERS surveying the scenes just after the explosion at the hotel in 2009. (Andy Thompson).
FIREFIGHTERS surveying the scenes just after the explosion at the hotel in 2009. (Andy Thompson).

plans to rebuild the Drumtochty Arms Hotel on a new site in the village of Auchenblae have been met with mixed reactions from locals.

The original hotel was destroyed in a gas explosion in 2009, which left three people seriously injured.

Permission had already been granted to owner Charles Anderson to re-build the hotel on the existing site, incorporating the former butcher’s shop. But these plans have now been abandoned owing to constraints with the land.

In new plans, which were lodged with Aberdeenshire Council last month, the site of the new hotel is proposed as being to the west of Granom on the outskirts of Auchenblae.

The plans include proposals for a cafe and farm shop, as well as formation of a new access road to the site.

The five-bedroom hotel will also have a public bar and games room, as well as an associated cafe and shop, which will sell produce from local suppliers.

The plans have been welcomed by many local residents who are happy to see investment in the area.

TOURISTS

Zoe Dunbar said: “It sounds great, we need a lot more in the area. We recently moved south of the city and there isn’t a great deal of attractions here.”

Chris Stirk added: “Sounds like a plan. We could do with some more tourists in the area and there would be extra employment for the locals.”

Amy Whittet said: “Yes, Auchenblae needs a pub. We finally have a decent shop and will be great to have a pub again to get the community back together!”

Vicky Crabb added: “A pub is often the heart of a village community, and this would start getting Auchenblae back to the way it used to be!”

But Susie Brown, who lives in the village and is a member of the Mearns Community Council, said that she has some reservations about the proposed site of the development.

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She said: “I think a new hotel would be great for the village, but I don’t know what is wrong with the original site of the Drumtochty Arms.

‘‘It was a focal point of the village but this new site is quite out of the way.

“There have been two previous applications in years gone by on this site for housing, and they have been turned down. The site is not zoned for building in the Local Deverlopment Plan and a lot of gardens back on to the site.

“I think there is a fear that if the hotel gets the go-ahead then it will pave the way for more building to the west of the village.”

Sophie Mathers said: “The village definitely does need a pub, however, if the plans do go through, would Drumtochty Castle Ltd get the council to put the street lights back on after midnight and put pavements or a path and more street lights down the glen road to the planned site?

“Or will we all be walking back into the village in the pitch black? Yes, the idea is great, but the planned site isn’t an ideal one in my opinion. Also, what will happen to the old site, will it remain the way it is?”

There are no current plans for the former site of the Drumtochty Arms.

The hotel was gearing up to re-open after a 12-month refurbishment when the explosion ripped the building apart on January 7 2009.

The blast reduced parts of the building to rubble and injured barmaid Danielle Ormond, local man James Guthrie and kitchen porter Neil Coffield.

Danielle Ormond, who suffered significant injuries including a collapsed lung and fractured vertebrae in her neck and back, has launched legal action and is seeking £200,000 from the hotel’s owner and gas contractor.

However both parties deny they caused the explosion.

The explosion saw television, radio and newspaper reporters descend on Auchenblae and local people turned out in force to watch emergency and demolition crews at work.

Members of the public have until February 28 to comment on the plans on the Aberdeenshire Council website.