Mixed reaction as Auchenblae pub plans are re-submitted

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AN APPLICATION to rebuild the Drumtochty Arms Hotel on a new site in Auchenblae has been re-submitted by developers.

Drumtochty Castle Ltd want to build a hotel, cafe and shop, including manager’s flat and associated access road and parking area, at a site to the west of Granom on the outskirts of the village..

Plans for the new site were submitted to Aberdeenshire Council earlier this year, but later withdrawn.

At the time, the proposals, which included a five-bedroom hotel, public bar and games room, as well as an associated cafe and shop, were met with a mixed reaction from local residents.

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.

Those opposed to the plans had concerns about the new location on the outskirts of the village, and were worried that a development like this on the edge of the community could encourage further expansion.

Objectors also claimed that the site was not set aside for development in the local plan, and it could spoil the beauty of the area.

But following the most recent application in April, a group of Auchenblae locals have set up a supporters group for those who would like to see the plans brought to fruition.

A facebook page set up for supporters has attracted more than 250 people.

The organisers explained: “The last time the planning application went in for the new pub in Auchenblae the objectors seemed to outweigh the supporters.

‘‘The application has been resubmitted, so let’s show our support and get a pub for the village!

“Of course we don’t want the ‘bomb site’ to remain an eyesore in the middle of the village, but building a hotel or pub there is just not viable anymore. The site will be put to another use in due course but our focus for now has to be on getting a pub for the village!

“Unless we want to settle for just the occasional pub night in the village hall, we really need to get behind this application and make sure it is approved. We cannot allow the village to lose out socially and economically by letting Mr Anderson think we don’t deserve or appreciate his investment.”

At their meeting on Monday evening, Mearns Community Council said that they will again submit an objection to the plans, following a public meeting last month in which 70 people voted to do so.

The former hotel in the centre of Auchenblae 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.Ms Ormond, who suffered significant injuries including a collapsed lung and fractured vertebrae in her neck and back, has launched a legal action and is seeking £200,000 from the hotel’s owner and gas contractor. However, both parties deny they caused the explosion.

Members of the public have until May 16 to comment on the plans on the Aberdeenshire Council website.