RESIDENTS who turned out to a public meeting in Auchenblae have voted overwhelmingly in support of re-building the Drumtochty Arms Hotel on its former site.
Around 70 people turned out to the meeting in the Village Hall on February 21, organised by Mearns Community Council along with Auchenblae Community Association.
Aim was to gather the views of residents on an application by the owners of the former hotel, which was destroyed in an explosion four years ago, to re-build on a new site on the outskirts of the village.
The application includes plans for a cafe and shop as well as parking for up to 20 cars at a site to the west of Granom.
General consensus of the meeting was that there is a need for a pub in Auchenblae, but concerns were raised over the location of the new site. It was suggested that the former hotel site would be in a central position and within easy walking distance of the village.
Those with concerns pointed out that the proposed development was outwith the Local Development Plan, and the scenic aspect to the west of Auchenblae would be compromised. The meeting heard that two previous applications on this site had already been turned down.
Mearns community councillor Marjorie Stewart told the Observer: “The appreciation by residents of the beautiful open aspect of this area with outstanding views to the west was very apparent.”
Other issues raised included concerns over potential flooding at the new site, that this development would encourage further development to the west of the village, and that a new shop and cafe may not be sustainable while there was an existing shop and tea-room already.
Mrs Stewart said that the possibility of making Auchenblae a conservation village was also discussed, but added: “At present this is questionable owing to economic considerations.
“It was suggested that, wherever the location, what was described as a ‘modern monstrosity’ would not fit into a traditional village with conservation status.”
Fifty seven votes were cast in favour of re-building the hotel on its former site, while just seven votes were for a new hotel being developed to the west of Granom.
Mearns Community Council will lodge an objection with the Planning Department of Aberdeenshire Council.