Plans to restore a historic ruin on a Moray beach at the heart of a holiday park are poised to be thrown out following more than 400 objections.
Objectors rallied to try and block the plans for Millie Bothy, which dates back to the 19th century, on Roseisle Beach.
Now Moray Council planners have recommended that the development be rejected amid concerns that the proposals for eight new self-catering huts with the ruined fisherman’s shelter restored as an office and art gallery could ruin the “unspoilt” nature of the dunes.
However, the plans have also generated 19 letters of support from the community, including from Visit Scotland who believe the project could tap into a market for environmentally-conscious tourists.
Councillors are due to meet next week to debate the proposals, which are expected to create up to 10 jobs.
In a report, council officer Emma Mitchell warned that the refurbished bothy and accommodation breached planning policies and is “unacceptable” for the location.
She wrote: “The reasons for this include the self-catering huts and the associated intensification of activating having a detrimental impact on the secluded nature and tranquillity of the area making development inappropriate in this location.
“The proposal would significantly alter the character of this unspoilt dune area resulting in significant visual intrusion to the detriment of the character and appearance of the area of coastline.”
Objections from members of the public included concerns about roads access to the beach site, the precedent of allowing the development and a potential increase in litter.
Heldon Community Council has also submitted concerns amid fears increased footfall could lead to erosion of the dunes.
The ruined bothy dates back to the 19th Century and was bought with the surrounding land by the Urquhart family in 2017 – who hope to save the structure before it is lost forever as an homage to their ancestors who fished from the site.
Visit Scotland believe an exhibition devoted to the area’s fishing heritage would help promote Roseisle Beach to a wider market.
In a letter, regional director Jo Robinson said: “As well as seeking out ‘quirky accommodation’ visitors are increasingly keen to spend money with businesses that can demonstrate strong green credentials.
“This development represents a value-for-money proposition for visitors to the region and I am encouraged to see investments in new experiences for visitors at a time when tourism is a key sector for growth in Moray Speyside.”