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Plans revealed to extend Elgin Mosque and Erskine’s transformation of Forres hotel approved

The latest Moray planning round-up is here.

Elgin Mosque.
Elgin Mosque.

Welcome to Planning Ahead – our weekly round-up of the latest proposals across Moray.

Planning chiefs have approved proposals to repurpose Forres’s closed Victoria Hotel.

Meanwhile, bosses behind the transformation of Coleburn Distillery into a whisky resort wants to erect a temporary biomass boiler unit.

But first, we are looking at plans to upgrade the Elgin mosque.

SUBMITTED: Elgin mosque upgrades

Elgin Mosque.

In May 2020, Jamia Islamic Centre Trust Fund had plans to upgrade their Elgin mosque at 78 South Street.

Around four years on, they have resubmitted the proposals to reflect the requirements of a modern day mosque.

The ground floor will include male and female toilets, a kitchen, office, rest room and prayer room.

Meanwhile, the first floor will have have a prayer room too.

There will be more open area to allow more people to attend prayers.

Insulation and quality of windows will be improved to help keep the mosque warm with the minimum amount of heating required.

Peak times for prayers are around 2pm on Fridays but the mosque is open daily for prayers.

Plan Plus is representing them in the proposals.

History of the Elgin Mosque

South Street, Elgin.

In 2014, Moray Council sold the former offices to the Jamia Islamic Centre Trust Fund for £195,000.

The following year, planning permission was given to transform the former social work offices into a mosque.

At the time. it became the most northerly mosque in the whole of the UK.

Muslims had previously rented out Bishopmill Hall for Friday afternoon prayers until the mosque opened.

In 2014, our coverage of plans for Elgin Mosque.

SUBMITTED: Work to support bistro coming to Coleburn Distillery

At the turn of the year, we visited Coleburn Distillery, south of Elgin, as they revealed exclusively to us how their ambitious vision to create a whisky resort was becoming a reality.

After years of work behind the scenes.

Coleburn Distillery pictured. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

In January, we revealed planning chiefs had approved a building warrant for work to go-ahead to turn a unused piggery building into a bistro.

There will be seating inside and outside.

Bosses has previously revealed to us they are targeting a summer opening for it.

Drawing of the Coleburn Distillery new bistro we previously revealed.

This will be the first part of the hospitality at the whisky resort.

D&M Winchester Limited director Gwenda Smits previously told us: “It will be unique because of the setting.

“This bistro will have a smart casual offering and 60 covers.”

What work is proposed?

Proposed biomass boiler unit.

D&M Winchester Limited have applied for permission to put up a temporary biomass boiler unit to serve the cafe bistro and future development at Coleburn Distillery.

It is proposed to the rear of a bank of trees at the back of the site.

This area is currently an unused area of hardstanding.

With permission sought for five years.

It is seen as a temporary solution until capital is available to provide a permanent larger centralised biomass boiler to serve all future activities.

Farningham Planning Ltd is representing the firm in the application.

Floor plan for the unit.

Whisky resort vision

Mark Winchester, Gwenda Smits and Dale Winchester thrived with progress on the transformation project at Coleburn Distillery. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

In 2004, Dale and his brother Mark Winchester purchased the buildings.

Their ambition has always been to turned the distillery into a resort with a five star hotel, lodging accommodation and spa and conference facilities.

They also want to reinstate Coleburn as a full working distillery and create a hospitality focal point.

The project is thought to be the first of its kind in the world.

APPROVED: Erskine’s plans for closed Forres hotel

In December, we exclusively revealed how armed forces charity Erskine wanted to transform the Victoria Hotel into an activity and day centre for veterans.

The hotel on Tytler Street in Forres is under offer.

Our exclusive on the plans to transform the hotel into a hub for veterans.

The group already has long-term plans to open in the town’s former Leanchoil hospital, but says their services are needed now.

Erskine bosses are hoping to open the interim venue at the hotel before the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the charity has already partnered with the Leanchoil Trust in their plans to turn the Leanchoil Hospital into a community hub, veterans centre and affordable housing project in 2027.

History of the hotel

Since 1864, Victoria Hotel has been a landmark at the west end of Forres.

Over the years, it has held endless dances, functions and family celebrations. It operated as a hotel until January 2020.

Victoria Hotel.

Last month, we reported on how the charity had submitted plans to transformed the ground floor of the hotel and public bar into a veteran’s activity centre.

The upper floors will no longer be used as accommodation and there will be public access to the ground floor only.

LDN Architects LLP represented the charity in planning.

Now planning chiefs have approved the proposals.

Here are the floor plans:

Games room floor plan.
Ground floor plan.
Reception floor plan.
Plan for the current function suite.

Spotted any plans you think we should know about? Get in touch at