COUNCILLORS at the Kincardine and Mearns area committee were divided over the application for change of use of Stonehaven’s Heugh Hotel.
The decision on the future of the hotel came down to a vote by the Councillors with six voting to follow the planners recommendation of delegated grant and six voting to object to the application. This resulted in the Chairman of the committee, Councillor Paul Melling, casting his deciding vote which saw the planners recommendation being approved. As a result of this, the hotel will now become a private house.
This decision was reached following much debate by the Councillors on the committee about the Heugh hotel’s importance to Stonehaven.
Councillor Peter Bellarby opened up the discussion. He said: “This hotel. I think, is very significant to the well being of Stonehaven. Stonehaven has lost a number of hotels in the last few years. This has been detrimental to the town.”
Councillor Bellarby also highlighted that whilst the six rooms which would be lost if the Heugh closed seems insignificant six rooms represent ten percent of the accommodation in the town and so would have a large impact.
Councillor Graeme Clark also voiced his concerns. He said: “Stonehaven has lost too many hotels in the recent past. This is really one of the best looking buildings in Stonehaven.”
He also discussed that with the Caravan park being done up that more and more tourists would be visiting the town and they would require somewhere to eat and he said that the Heugh could provide this.
He also expressed his concern that the Heugh was only advertised as a growing concern for two months before it was offered as a residential property. He suggested that the decision be deferred to allow the hotel to be advertised for longer as a growing concern.
Many of the Councillors agreed with this idea of marketing the property for longer as a hotel. Councillor Carl Nelson said: “I would like to see it getting a little longer. I don’t feel that two months is long enough.”
However under the current legislation there is no set time that a property must be advertised as a growing concern before it can then be considered for change of use.
Many of the Councillors expressed their concern that they did not want to lose the hotel, however they felt there was no option.
Councillor Dick said: “There is nothing that we can do. It’s terribly terribly sad.”
Councillor Melling put forward a motion to agree with the recommendation and this was seconded by Councillor Sullivan.
When seconding the motion, Councillor Sullivan said: “It is basically a very glorious and lovely bed and breakfast. It is hardly a hotel because it is so small.” He continued; “The owners are perfectly at liberty to do what they want.”
Councillor Bellarby then put forward an amendment to refuse the application, this was seconded by Councillor Clark.
Planning permission in principle for the Heugh hotel has now been granted and the decision will now be delegated to the Head of Planning and Building Standards subject to a number of conditions.