Plans for a £100million luxury development in Aberdeenshire – which includes a five-star hotel – are hanging in the balance after councillors ruled they “do not deliver what was promised”.
Aberdeenshire Council’s Marr area committee was asked yesterday to approve the conditions of a masterplan for the complex at Inchmarlo, which could bring a Royal Whisky Lodge hotel and 85 homes to the area.
Planning permission in principle for the application was granted in 2011, however councillors yesterday argued that the plans by Inchmarlo Farms Ltd might require a total re-think.
They added that the development neighbouring the now disused 18-hole Inchmarlo Golf Course – which was open at the time of the first application – may be out of place.
The committee deferred its final decision in order to approve the masterplan alongside separate applications for the hotel and housing.
Aberdeenshire Council officials argued the proposals were “not significantly different” from the originals approved in 2011, and said the applicant was offering to bring more than £250,000 of investment to the Banchory area.
Councillor Karen Clark disagreed and said the masterplan was now “significantly and radically different”.
“The golf course is now no longer part of it. It is not what the members voted for on that day. This is very different from the what was proposed before,” she said.
“I think when the community discover what they are going to get is £250,000 in compensation from that, they really will not be happy.
“Councillors felt (in 2011) what they were getting in return from that decision was worth it. I consent that it is now dipped in the other direction.”
Banchory councillor Linda Clark said: “It is four years since this came to full council. The application in front of me is very different to that former application.
“We are now being offered a very different thing – a hotel, albeit an excellent concept, but not the same.”
Senior Marr area planner, Neil Mair, added: “We don’t view this as significantly different from what was proposed before. It was not going to become a new club house to the golf course.
“This was never the saving grace of the golf course.”
Aboyne councillor Peter Argyle moved to defer the application so it could be considered alongside all relevant applications for a “complete overview”.
He added: “It would seem a more sensible way of doing it.”
A spokesman for the Inchmarlo Farms Ltd said: “The applicant is taking stock of the situation as a result of the meeting today.”
The firm had been hoping to start work in March 2016.
The plans received 18 objections from locals concerned about the impact on woodlands, wildlife and the impact on country routes including the Glassel Road which runs through Inchmarlo.
The developer had proposed to implement a 30mph on the road around the development and to introduce street lighting on it.
Local resident Alan Crowther said: “The previous plan was given planning permission the basis the upside outweighed the downside. If that same logic is applied now both the upside and downside need to be reconsidered.
“Some of that includes 85 houses and a nice hotel, but increased road traffic on the Glassel Road. And to think that a 30mph speed limit and street lights on the road might solve the issue is ludicrous.
“You can imagine if you met a bus, you do have to take that road very carefully.Changing speed limits and getting in road lights doesn’t seem to be a solution.”