A PLANNING HEARING to decide the future of a landmark Moray hotel ended in chaos yesterday when a major error was discovered in the original submission.
Several objectors to the plan to demolish the Tenants Arms Hotel in Lhanbryde were ready to have their say at the special meeting of the planning and regulatory services committee.
The meeting got under way with the proposers making their case for the demolition and subsequent building of a new general store with parking. It was only when questions were being asked of the applicant by local councillor Douglas Ross that a serious oversight emerged.
Under pressure from Councillor Ross, it became apparent that the submission was incorrect in declaring the ownership of the land involved – effectively making the application invalid.
Following a recess, it was decided that the meeting could not proceed and that a new planning application would need to be lodged – with that unlikely to be heard for several months. An apology was issued to objectors with an assurance that the case would remain ‘open’ and they would not be required to resubmit their reasons for objecting to the plan.
Following the meeting Douglas Ross, who took time out from his duties as a local MSP, said: “I wanted to ensure I could be at this hearing as it’s an important local issue in Lhanbryde.
“After I questioned the applicants agent over the plans for parking and their ownership of ground required to meet the conditions, it became apparent there was a problem with the application.
“Naturally I am disappointed things were allowed to progress this far before the error was spotted but at least it came to light before the application was determined. Local objectors have spent a lot of time preparing for this hearing and I feel for them that this will now be delayed even further.
“A lot of time and energy has been invested by all parties and I hope the council will reflect on why so many people were let down by the process. However, it may also be an opportunity for the applicants to consider their options.
“While there has been strong opposition to the proposed shop, the entire community want to see the building taken back into use.
“If the applicant would like to discuss these options and consider them with the local community I would be happy to facilitate a meeting.”