Ambitious plans for a multi-million pound tourism and leisure project in Lochaber – including the construction of a 120-bed hotel – have been unveiled, providing hope of a jobs boom in the area.
An application for planning in principal has been lodged with Highland Council for a new development at Achnabobane, between Fort William and Spean Bridge.
Former stockbroker Ross MacGregor, whose family has run the estate for generations, is seeking the views of the public.
In papers to be presented to the local authority’s south planning committee next week, Edinburgh architects Fouin and Bell – who are leading the project for Mr MacGregor – say: “It is proposed that the development will include a new 120-bed hotel, various touris attractions and shop, similar to those at Brodie or Rothiemurchus.”
It adds that it would also include “off-road driving, countryside activities such as clay pigeon shooting, woodland walks, wildlife activities, including access to the existing red deer hert on the estate and development of the existing fishing activities”.
The application also state: “It is felt that whilst there are many outdoor activity centres such as the Nevis Range and Ben Nevis, there is a lack of alternative tourist attractions in the area to address the needs of visitors who either do not want to get involved in adventure sports or to address the needs of visitors when the weather does not allow ski-ing, climbing or mountain biking.”
The estate, off the A82, has been owned by the MacGregor family for over 185 years and extends to some 400 acres, and is a mixture of woodland and open farmland.
It is a registered red deer farm and also operates as a trout fishery.
Achnabobane has developed into a small Highland village and currently has 27 houses, primarily in the north west corner.
Architect David Bell said Mr MacGregor was hoping to tap into the tourism boom in the area, and hopefully construct a development which would provide much needed jobs to Lochaber.
He said previous plans for a garden centre, which could have provided 12 jobs, were not deemed appropriate for the location, adding: “We had some pre-application discussion with planners about this and their view was that a suitably-designed leisure facility might find support.
“Mr MacGregor is very keen to see the land developed for the benefit of the wider community.”
Fort William on the north side of Loch Linnhe and Ben Nevis mountain range are the most well-known tourist destinations.
The proposed development site has easy access to Loch Ness, Fort Augustus, Adnamurchan, Morvern, Arisaig and the Morar and Knoydart peninsulas.