A national convenience store chain has insisted they remain committed to a delay-hit plan to transform a derelict hotel in Moray into a shop.
The Co-op had originally intended to have its new outlet in Lhanbryde open on the site of the Tennant Arms during the summer.
However, proposals to demolish the Victorian building, which has stood in the village since 1854, and rebuild it in a similar style have been held up due to conditions attached with the demolition.
Now the Co-op has revealed that it hopes to begin work on the project next month ahead of the shop opening early next year.
Questions had been raised about whether the chain had pulled out of the Tennant Arms site after branded goods from the firm started being sold in the village’s other convenient store.
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Yesterday Lhanbryde resident Gill Stewart, who helped spearhead a campaign opposing the demolition of the former hotel, explained locals were still eager to see the building preserved.
She said: “We don’t see the point in them opening a Co-op if you can already buy their stuff in the shop across the road.
“We definitely want to see the building saved but we can’t even communicate with the owner now. Even if we had an offer we couldn’t give it to him.
“They’re probably hoping that the village has moved on but we still care.”
More than 250 people signed a petition opposing the proposals to demolish the building before they were approved by the council.
Hopes were briefly raised when developer Tahir Pervaiz pledged to re-examine the plans to see if the structure could be saved following the backlash before ruling the option out on cost grounds.
A boycott of the new grocery store has been threatened by locals.
A spokeswoman for the Co-op said: “A local developer, who has acquired the former Tennant Arms, has had plans approved and is now working with the council to finalise the best approach to construction management with work expected to commence on site during October.
“The new store will create jobs for people living in the area and support local causes when it opens in the spring.”