A controversial project to build nearly 40 luxury homes in the grounds of an Aberdeenshire hotel have been backed by planning chiefs.
Cala Homes (North) submitted proposals for 36 homes at Meldrum House Hotel and Golf Club last year, after scaling back their original 50-property vision.
The scheme is made up of three separate planning applications, which together propose the replacement of the historic Hedgerhall cottage and the redevelopment of kennels and other areas into space for 36 homes.
The new homes will be a mix of four and five bedroom detached houses – including in new areas such as plans for five new houses along the B9170 Methlick road.
But locals have objected to plans to fell “ancient woodland” to make way for the development and launched a petition.
Despite this, planning officers have recommended members of the Formartine area committee back the scheme when they meet on Tuesday.
Council papers state the proposals would be a “acceptable departure” from sections of the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan (LDP) 2017.
The number of trees to be felled for the plan means the plans would not line up with the local development plan.
But in a report to councillors infrastructure boss Stephen Archer states: “Planting is to be introduced to compensate for around two-thirds of the woodland lost.”
The developers will also be asked to build passing places and a crossing over the B9170 between Meldrum House and Oldmeldrum.
Cala Homes (North) must also provide a written plan on how they will protect red squirrels, badgers, otters and breeding birds.
Last night Ross Maclennan, land director at Cala Homes (North), said: “This application has been many months in the making, in close collaboration with Meldrum House Estate and the planning team at Aberdeenshire Council.
“We are aware that there has been concern over the removal of trees on the land, however as we seek to progress and improve the previously agreed development in partnership with the estate, we have been very mindful of the unique surroundings of the location and remain committed to ensuring any development is sympathetic to the natural environment.”