The Tufted Duck hotel outside Fraserburgh will be turned into a holiday haven – despite concerns over the impact on actual ducks nearby.
The building at St Combs, outside Fraserburgh, was mothballed months into the pandemic – officially closing in July 2020.
The four-star hotel was built in the 1970s and was a well-known shooters lodge before becoming a wedding and party venue.
It has since been demolished and plans to revive the site were unwrapped just before Christmas last year.
Quitie Ltd unveiled how they would turn the coastal location into a tourist hotspot.
Along with space for 32 motorhomes, they would build a facilities block and create a new bistro restaurant and bar.
What was the reaction to the Tufted Duck plans?
Locals quickly got behind the idea, urging Aberdeenshire Council to endorse the ambitious revamp.
John Bruce, from Inverallochy, highlighted the jobs boost and the chance to attract visitors from all over the UK to the corner of the north-east.
David Stewart thinks the benefits could even help keep the local primary school open.
He said: “For a long time the village has been trying to grow to keep the St Combs Primary School open and maintain the amazing community spirit.
“There is currently a new housing scheme being developed, but we need to encourage people to move here.
“The Tufted Duck would offer jobs and a community hub for the village but also encourage some much needed tourism into the area.”
Duncan Riddoch of Charleston Street added: “It will be fantastic to have a bar and restaurant back in the village which has been a huge miss.
“And somewhere for the large amount of motorhome traffic we see in the village to stay overnight, keeping the car park at the beach free.”
Could Tufted Duck revamp plans put birds at risk?
But bird boffins are concerned the proposals could affect feathered friends nesting nearby…
The RSPB didn’t officially object, but did list a few “concerns” due to it being near the Loch of Strathbeg.
Karen Cunningham, senior conservation officer, explained the possible conflict with nature.
She said: “The loch provides wintering habitat for a number of important wetland bird species, particularly geese, swans and ducks.”
The animal enthusiast added: “We have concerns that there could be increased disturbance to nesting birds who use the fields adjacent to the campsite and on the foreshore, due to a higher number of people walking in the area, especially with dogs.”
The field in question is home to ground-nesting corn bunting, an endangered species.
The bird protection charity suggests that signs are put up to “inform and educate users” of the risk of disturbance to wildlife on the neighbouring reserve.
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What did the council say?
Planning officials praised the idea of new jobs and the anticipated economic boost.
You can see the plans here.