Fresh plans to rebuild an Aberdeenshire hotel, destroyed in a gas explosion almost six years ago, have been lodged.
The Drumtochty Arms Hotel in Auchenblae was just days away from reopening after a refurbishment when the blast happened on January 7, 2009.
Three people were seriously injured, and last summer kitchen-fitters Instant Catering Maintenance (ICM) were fined £7,500 for breaching health and safety rules.
Now owner Charles Anderson has submitted fresh plans to rebuild the hotel, restaurant and bar in the heart of the village.
If given approval by Aberdeenshire Council, the building will house a pub with a games room, restaurant, garden area, lounge, function suite and eight bedrooms.
The derelict remaining butcher’s shop would be given a new lease on life as a food preparation and storage area complete with a food takeaway and a bothy would be turned into a manager’s flat.
Mr Anderson was previously granted consent to rebuild the hotel on the existing site in 2009, but it has since lapsed.
In 2013, he came forward with revised plans to house the hotel on the outskirts of the village but they were rejected amid widespread opposition from locals, who argued it should be in the heart of the community.
But locals are behind Mr Anderson’s latest plans to recreate the village’s only pub.
Susie Brown, who represents Auchenblae for Mearns Community Council, said last night: “I think the village needs it. I can’t see there will be a lot of objections in this instance.
“I think that will be very much praised by the village and I think it will be very welcome on the original site.
“It will be the only pub in the village.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Anderson’s agents, architecture firm A.B Roger and Young Ltd, said: “Our client proposes a new purpose built hotel on the site of the former Drumtochty Arms Hotel which was destroyed in a gas explosion in 2009.
“The lower level of the butchers shop will accommodate a food preparation-storage area (and) staff room with takeaway area to the front.
“The former hotel provided a takeaway facility that was accessed through the hotel and proved to be popular with village residents.
“As this application is for a replacement hotel which was previously approved in 2009 and has since lapsed we feel this reapplication should also be approved as a welcome addition to the High Street of Auchenblae and allow a derelict site to be regenerated and enhance the village square.”