Controversial plans for a holiday retreat on the outskirts of Inverness have been earmarked for approval despite objections from local residents.
Derelict agricultural buildings on Ladystone Farm in Bunchrew are in line to be transformed into a five-star holiday resort.
The £3million Blackstone Retreat would comprise of 10 short-term holiday lets, a shop and spa centred around a communal courtyard.
The venture is expected to provide around 10 full-time positions upon its launch as well as various jobs during the construction phase of the development.
Inverness businesswoman Christy Marshall aims to embark on the project with her partner Ryan Forbes with hopes of breathing new life into the “eyesore” area.
The planning in principle application, which will go before members of the south planning applications committee next week, has been recommended for approval, despite a series of objections.
Ms Marshall says the retreat would bring a welcome boost to the local economy.
She said: “We are of course aware of the concerns regarding the plans, but if we are granted permission, we have no doubt that everything we do will enhance the area.
“At the moment, the buildings are an eyesore and we hope we are given the opportunity to bring them back to life sensitively.
“There will be a significant economic benefit to the local area. Construction jobs will be created and the retreat itself will provide at least 10 permanent jobs to begin with. We will also endeavour to use local businesses for the construction, interior design and the marketing of the retreat.”
The application for the development has been submitted to the Highland Council by Dualchas Architects.
A string of concerned locals have lodged objections to the plans, sighting issues such as road safety.
Members of Kirkhill & Bunchrew Community Council say the existing road conditions are insufficient for the volume of traffic the retreat would generate.
In their letter of objection, chairman Cameron Kemp wrote: “The Community Council with to object to this application on the basis that traffic from the development will use the Ladystone road to access the A862.
“This road is in a poor condition, narrow and without passing places and crosses a substandard railway bridge.
“This is consistent with previous objections made by the community council to developments at Ladystone.”
Gail Brown has been a resident of Upper Leachkin for 28 years and a crofting tenant here for 16 years.
She said a development of this scale would exceed the present roads capacity.
Mrs Brown said: “Leachkin Brae is a very steep, narrow, single track road with no pavement, which originally serviced several crofts and a farm at Blackpark. Over time there have been new individual houses built in Upper Leachkin and Blackpark, all of which have put additional strain on this road.
“In conclusion, a development of this scale, both during construction and subsequent servicing would be completely at odds with the present road capacity.”
Ms Marshall added: “The ethos of the retreat will be around healthy living and encouraging the guests to use and embrace what is on the doorstep.
“There will be bike hire, spa and wellness classes for guests and we will encourage walking and cycling in the local area.
“If planning is granted, we will enhance local walking and cycling routes with regular scheduled maintenance whilst the site shop will stock only local products.
“Our desire to encourage healthy living will also be extended to staff who will be offered the Cycle to Work Scheme amongst other benefits.”