Hotel plans causing a rift in close-knit community

The site at the west of Auchenblae where plans for a hotel were recently rejected.
The site at the west of Auchenblae where plans for a hotel were recently rejected.

Weeks after plans for a hotel in the village of Auchenblae were turned down, some residents are still divided over the decision.

Members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee voted to reject an application for a hotel on a site to the west of Granom. The application was monitored closely by residents of the village, who have been without a local pub since an explosion destroyed the Drumtochty Arms Hotel in January 2009.

Local resident Gary Harris has spoken out about his disappointment over the councillors’ decision.

He said: “In my opinion, the decision to reject a proposal for a hotel and pub in the village of Auchenblae by some councillors who, frankly, had no business making any decision on the affairs of a village they live nowhere near - and others more qualified to do so - drove a bus through the democratic will of the majority of the people who do live there.

“People are angry, and there can be no justification whatsoever for a decision that tramples on the wishes of the majority - 101 of 160 representations - and rides roughshod over the expert opinion recorded in the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee Report submitted by the Planning Department, with a resounding recommendation that full permission be granted for the proposal to proceed.”

However, some residents of the village supported the decision.

Auchenblae resident Shirley Castles said: “Surely the democratic right is for any one person to vote, and for their vote to count, on any issues they feel strongly about?

“I have lived in Auchenblae for 20 years, and I intend to be here another 20-plus.

‘‘ I am very proud to say I was an objector to this development.

‘‘I came to the village of Auchenblae because of the location, what it offered to my son’s upbringing and the quality of life for my family away from the towns and cities.

‘‘The scenery in the surrounds of Auchenblae make this the village that people would like to live and be proud of, and that’s why we have to protect these areas.

‘‘Historically, the site at Granhom has had three applications before this one and they have all been turned down.

“I would also like to say we all would like to see a pub back in the village - on any of the sites designated for such a development.”