Proposals to create a new boatyard and Cafe in Portgordon have been mired in controversy since first being tabled last year, first through sparking a campaign group to fight against the proposal – and later through the formation of another group arguing in favour.
Initial plans to also build a number of homes on seafront land were withdrawn by owner Gemma Campbell – but the Stoke-based developer pressed ahead to revised plans for the boatyard facility and a cafe.
Such was the split of opinion in the local community Councillors chose to ignore the recommendation of their officials to reject the planning applications, instead calling a public hearing on Friday to give everyone concerned an opportunity to fully air their views.
That has now resulted in a decision to grant planning permission – to the delight of at least one group of campaigners who say that the “graveyard village” now had an opportunity to attract tourists and reverse years of decline.
Speaking for the Portgordon Development Group – formed by villagers who were determined to show that not all residents were against the proposals – Maureen Burrows said: “We love our community but even we cannot deny that it has turned into a graveyard village.
“There is a long way to go yet before we get the boatyard and cafe, but at least there is now the permission to proceed.”
Cullen architect Nick Brown attended the public hearing on behalf of his client Ms Campbell, who is currently taking part in an attempt to break the world record to row the Atlantic.
Pointing out that Ms Campbell was at the forefront of international rowing, he said: “The boatyard will attract rowers from all across the world – and all these people are going to need places to eat and sty, which is going to help the local economy not just in Portgordon but across Moray.”