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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Council backs castle hotel plans
Taymouth Castle
Developers want the castle to be a hotel by Christmas 2006
Proposals to turn a 19th century castle into a six-star hotel have received the unanimous approval of councillors.

The development would make Taymouth Castle at Kenmore, Perthshire, one of Scotland's most exclusive retreats.

Perth and Kinross councillors voted to grant planning permission for the project, which could create 300 jobs.

But ministers will have the final say on the plans after Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency raised concerns.

Holiday lodges

Their objections mean that proposals will have to be approved by the Scottish Executive.

Hotel International plans to restore the A-listed castle, construct a new north wing with 72 suites, convert the kennels into a spa and build holiday lodges on the banks of the River Tay.

Ian Sleith, head of development control at Perth and Kinross Council, recommended that councillors endorse the planning application.

Mr Sleith's report detailed objections by Sepa over a "potential flood risk" and by Historic Scotland regarding the extent of the building work.

This is one of the last opportunities to save Taymouth Castle in terms of its heritage value
Neil Martin
Environmental consultant
SNH had expressed concern about the impact the project would have on salmon, lamprey and freshwater pearl mussels in the River Tay.

But after detailed discussions the heritage body withdrew its objections.

Mr Sleith said that at its present rate of deterioration, the castle was likely to be "beyond restoration" within the next five years.

He said: "The development should be considered as a complete package and on this basis it deserves to be supported for the benefits which the investment will bring to Perth and Kinross."

Neil Martin, planning team manager of environmental consultants RBS, said the project would save the crumbling castle and make it a major tourist attraction.

He said: "The hotel would be five star-plus at least and moving up to six-star.

Derelict areas

"The castle is an A-listed building and is one of the most impressive buildings of its sort in Scotland but it has been largely unused since the 1970s.

"This is one of the last opportunities to save Taymouth Castle in terms of its heritage value.

"Part of the east wing is as good as derelict and it is only through good fortune that the castle is still standing."

Mr Martin, who has been working on the project for Hotel International for three years, said environmental concerns, such as the relocation of bat and owl nests, had been taken on board.

He added: "We have put forward the proposals so that there is not an adverse impact, be it on a species or the environment."

Developers hope the hotel will be ready to open for business by Christmas 2006.

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