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Ice house plans hit the rocks as planning bosses urge refusal

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Councillors have been urged to reject proposals to convert an ancient Moray fishing building into a cafe.

Brigid Aitken has applied for permission to transform the 19th century ice house at Portgordon into a new tourist destination.

She hopes to build on the existing appeal of Gollachy House as a prime location for observing seals at close range.

Ice house at popular Moray seal spot to be transformed into cafe

In addition to a cafe, Ms Aitken wants to build a car park, art exhibition space, a yoga centre and a flat for her to live in.

The scheme has attracted 48 letters in support and just seven objections. But council officers have advised planning committee members to reject her proposals when they meet on Tuesday.

They argue that plans to build a flat above the B-listed building go against regulations and worry that the revamp would conflict with its historic appearance.

Papers submitted to elected members state: “The icehouse, being long established and modest in appearance, does not set the precedence for a larger, two-storey structure.

“The extension would have a detrimental impact on the special architectural and historic interest of the site by virtue of its design, in particular its overly prevalent scale.”

Last night, the developer responded she was “very disappointed” by the recommendation, and pleaded for councillors to look past it.

Ms Aitken said: “The site is already used by more than 100 visitors every day, with vehicles informally entering by an inadequate access from an excessively fast road.

“I am drawn to the natural beauty and heritage of the site and want help better manage and control the vehicular access.

“I also aim to foster a better understanding and appreciation of the wonderful seals, dolphins, birds and plants around the area.”

And her architect, Nick Brown, explained that the living accommodation is a necessary aspect of his client’s plans.

Mr Brown said: “It would help her with security and surveillance, and is an integral aspect of the design.

“We understand that having a house there conflicts with policy, but this is a manageress flat and it will not affect the ice house building.

“If this application is rejected, my client will not be able to go back to the drawing board and will have to sell the site.”

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