‘Eyesore’ hotel site gets new lease of life

The new development which has transformed the centre of Ardgay in Sutherland is now up and running.

The redevelopment of the fire-ravaged centre of a Highland village square has its first business tenants.

The Barn office centre, part of the new vision to regenerate Ardgay’s village square after the Lady Ross hotel burned down, is already fully occupied and home to six businesses despite just opening this week.

Outside the office suites is the newly-created Drover’s Square that was designed to give the village a more pleasant feel for locals and visitors.

Highland Councillor Hugh Morrison approves, saying: “The community has done an awful lot compared to where it was five or six, or even two or three years ago.

“With the Lady Ross area, there’s a bike shop and a café going in there, so you have to congratulate them. It took a lot of work and the area is looking nicer.”

He added: “It is like night and day compared to what it was two years ago. It is a big improvement and well done to them for what they have achieved.”

It is hoped that The Barn can meet the business needs of many in the Kyle of Sutherland who only require a temporary base for meetings or office services.

Now people can hire a conference room for a day, use the wi-fi for a few hours, or do some printing or scanning close to home.

Marion Turner, board director of the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust, said: “We are delighted that The Barn is opening for business right on schedule.”

She added: “We had always hoped that local businesses would want to set up in Ardgay but we have been overwhelmed by the demand.”

The project came about after the community voiced its feelings that Ardgay needed a focal point and the unused hotel had become an eyesore after a 2016 fire. Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust pushed through the idea and CH Architects were responsible for “conceiving and executing” the plan.

Ardgay’s fortune’s took a hit after the opening of the Dornoch Bridge in 1991 took most traffic away from the village and also when Carbisdale Castle youth hostel closed.

Matters got worse when the Falls of Shin visitor centre was destroyed by fire, but it was eventually rebuilt by the same architects responsible for The Barn.