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Banff’s Local Hero pub SAVED as councillors reject flats plan

Denis Lawson and Mark Kermode backed the campaign to save Banff's Ship Inn. Image by design team, Mhorvan Park.
Denis Lawson and Mark Kermode backed the campaign to save Banff's Ship Inn. Image by design team, Mhorvan Park.

Banff’s Local Hero pub has been saved from destruction.

The Ship Inn was featured in the revered 1983 Bill Forsyth comedy, and fans have made pilgrimages there for decades.

As the interior of the fictional Macaskill Arms, it played host to some of the movie’s most famous scenes.

Film-lovers were dismayed last summer when owner George Wood tabled plans to transform the piece of cultural history into flats.

Critic Mark Kermode hailed efforts to salvage it, having visited to interview director Forsyth for a BBC documentary.

And Local Hero star Denis Lawson told the Press and Journal he would be sad to see it go.

The Ship Inn will remain untouched, but the plans could be resurrected. Picture by Paul Glendell.

Ship Inn saved… For now

Councillors this morning voted 5-3 to refuse Mr Wood’s application.

They argued that, as per local authority rules on “tourist attractions”, it would need to be marketed for 12 months before any change of use could be granted.

This means that, should Mr Wood put it up for sale unsuccessfully, his transformation plan could be revived – and could potentially sail through the planning process.

The vote to save the Ship Inn came despite council officers imploring elected members to approve the proposal.

Defiant Banff councillors Glen Reynolds and John Cox led calls to overrule the planning department.

Slide back and forth to see Mr Wood’s plans for the pub

SLIDER

‘Local Hero link to be cherished’

Mr Reynolds argued to convince fellow members of the Banff and Buchan area committee that the venue could be reopened as a visitor draw.

He said the 18th Century listed building is “a place to which tourists are attracted”.

The councillor added: “It promotes local history and it promotes Local Hero.”

Mr Cox stressed the need for the “correct process” to be followed.

He said the owner now “has a year to demonstrate there is no demand for it” before potentially resurrecting the ill-fated application.

Tensions rose as votes cast

Councillor Michael Roy said the application should be rubber-stamped, suggesting the bar is a commercial enterprise for the owner to alter as he wishes.

He was backed by committee chairwoman Doreen Mair and Fraserburgh member Brian Topping.

<strong>Here’s how they voted.</strong>

But the five votes to save the Ship Inn were enough to secure its immediate future.

And Mr Reynolds said he would be “very surprised” if a new buyer does not come forward, given the interest in the property.

The decision will also come as a relief to locals who describe the Ship Inn as “more than just a pub”. 

‘It was like stepping into a movie’: Mark Kermode on why Banff’s Local Hero pub should be saved

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