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Community backs tourism plan for estate where police found remains of missing cyclist

An artist's impression of proposals for a new guest lodge and walled garden on the site of the current Auch Lodge.
An artist's impression of proposals for a new guest lodge and walled garden on the site of the current Auch Lodge.

A Highland estate where the remains of a missing cyclist were found has announced plans to build new tourist accommodation.

Members of the community have supported the proposals, which will see around £20 million invested in Auch Estate in Argyll.

The 28,000 acre estate at Bridge of Orchy is situated on the A82 Inverness to Glasgow road.

The 28,000 acre estate is home to seven Munros.

Details of a planning application to demolish the existing farm house were revealed at a public event in Bridge of Orchy village hall on Friday and Saturday.

Its surrounding farm buildings will also be knocked down and replaced with a new guest lodge, walled garden, paths and steading accommodation.

The farm will be moved to a site half a mile to the east of the existing buildings.

John Kerr, chairman of Glenorchy and Innishail Community Council, who lives close to the estate, said: “As far as the community at large are concerned, they are very pleased to see someone investing in the area.

“It is a continuing movement from relying entirely on agriculture and trying to diversify and make the most of the estate, which is a very good thing.

Plans showing the existing farm buildings at Auch Estate, which will be demolished and replaced with guest accommodation.

“It is a wonderful estate. It just needs a bit of money spent on it and that is what’s going to happen. We are very keen on that.”

At present the estate employs four people. This will increase to 20 when the project is complete.

‘It came as a complete surprise to all of us’

The body of Anthony Parsons, 63, was recovered from a remote area on the estate in January last year by specialist police officers.

Two men have been charged in connection with the death of retired naval officer Mr Parsons. He went missing following a charity cycle in 2017.

Anthony Parsons

Alexander and Robert McKellar, both 30, appeared at Dumbarton Sheriff Court in December last year.

Auch Estate was purchased for £12million by Hong Kong-based businessman Ming Ymai Lau two years ago.

Colin Stewart, of Perth-based estate management firm Galbraith, said: “The footprint of the planning application is completely away from where the police found the remains.

“The estate changed hands in 2020. It obviously came as a complete surprise to all of us and the owner, who had no idea of the history there.

“The principal house hasn’t been used as a farmhouse for some time. It was used in recent years for holiday letting.”

John Kerr, chairman of Glenorchy and Innishail Community Council, welcomed the plan for Auch Estate. Picture by Sandy McCook

The large sheep and cattle ranch stretches from Bridge of Orchy near to the top of Glen Lyon. It is also used for fishing, deer stalking and hillwalking.

Mr Stewart added: “The A82 is a major tourist route. Crianlarich and Tyndrum are popular tourist areas and it is close to Glencoe skiing resort.

“There is an element of agro-tourism. There will be an opportunity for guests to see what’s going on in the farm, for example if sheep shearing is going on there will be the opportunity to see that.

Building could start next year

“The owner and his wife are outdoor enthusiasts. They are interested in developing an export market for beef and lamb to Hong Kong.”

Speaking at Friday’s event, planning consultant Andrew Bayne said: “We are working towards submitting an application some time in May.

“We are going through the process, consulting with the community and all the stakeholders.

“Auch Lodge is in really poor condition. In fact, most of the buildings are.

Planning consultant Andrew Bayne with some of the plans.

“We have got a new owner with a long-term vision to restore and bring the estate back to its natural beauty.”

Tina Muldowney, project landscaping architect, said: “From the discussions we have had already, people are really positive about the fact that the project will deliver jobs.

“People recognise there is a need for investment in the estate.”

If planning consent is granted, construction is expected to begin next spring.

The deadline for comments to Argyll and Bute Council is April 11.

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