Moray developer brands hotel rejection a ‘missed opportunity’

Gary Coull – motion defeated.

The Moray businessman behind a scheme to create a new 22-room hotel in the region has branded a planning decision as a “complete joke” after Councillors voted to block his plans.

Peter Smith sought to build the new hotel at Easter Cotfield, near Alves, but his scheme was left in tatters when a local review body planning decision by five councillors saw his proposals defeated by three votes to two.

The developer, from Damhead Steadings at Kinloss, had already sourced reclaimed stone for the ‘environmentally friendly’ structure that would take much of its power from solar panels on the building roof.

Keith SNP councillor Gary Coull backed the plans, telling the committee: “We need to strike a balance between economic development, which this undoubtedly contributes towards, and ensuring road safety.”

Councillor Coull highlighted a debate in the Council earlier this week where economic and employment needs should be given a high priority in planning decisions.  The proposed Hotel was expected to provide 25 new jobs in the region.

Labour councillor for Elgin North, Barry Jarvis, seconded the proposal – however, it was lost with Forres independent George Alexander voting against, saying: “I think it is very unfortunate that although this is a development we need in Moray this particular site is not appropriate.”

The decision came after officials from the road department objected, saying that an additional 10 passing places would be required on the road passing the proposed 12-acre site and that it would not be either ‘viable or competent’ to build so many passing places.  That came despite the developer offering to pay for road improvement works.

Mr Smith slammed the decision, saying: “They have thrown away the opportunity to create a maximum of 25 jobs and have something unique in Moray.  How many other planning applications get refused because of the roads department?  Too many.”

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