An Inverness-shire bakery has criticised a planning delay which will prevent its expansion and the creation of 20 new jobs.
Cobbs Bakery, of Drumnadrochit, currently employs 30 people and is keen to move to a larger site in the village to accommodate the expansion of the firm.
The company has expanded into England, which is a driving force behind their plans for a larger production facility. The new factory would increase staffing numbers to 50.
The site is part of a proposed development by Loch Ness Homes for 80 homes, including 20 low-cost properties, a care home, shops, offices and land for a health centre.
The company has now appealed to the Scottish Government on the basis of the council’s non-determination of their application.
David Sutherland, managing director of Loch Ness Homes, said: “Space for the relocation of Cobbs Bakery has been at the core of our application.
“It is an extremely important business for Drumnadrochit in terms of direct employment and local suppliers. We have worked closely on the project but Highland Council have not seen fit to make a decision on our application, despite the fact that the site is zoned in the draft local plan for the very uses we propose.”
Fraser Campbell, managing director of Cobbs, said: “We’re extremely concerned that our growth plans have been hit by the delay in getting the green light for this project. Demand for our products has grown rapidly and we now have many regular orders for England. We have a very loyal workforce, all from in or around Drumnadrochit, and our plan is to expand in the village rather than relocating elsewhere.
“We need a site beside the A82 so our articulated delivery lorries can operate easily. There is no other site in or near Drumnadrochit which suits us.”
Mr Sutherland, who has already spent more than £100,000 on the scheme, has lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government to try to get his blueprint approved.
The businessman claims that the council’s “failure” to deal with the request for planning consent had left the company with no option.
But the local authority said it had to scrutinise the scheme because it is not consistent with the current development plan.
The government’s directorate of planning and environmental appeals is expected to hold a hearing in the summer.