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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 11:39 GMT
Actress has tea room plan refused
Penelope Keith
Ms Keith as Audrey Fforbes Hamilton in To The Manor Born
Actress Penelope Keith has had her plans to build a cafe in a picturesque Highland village rejected by a Scottish Government reporter.

The star of The Good Life and To The Manor Born had hoped to build the tea room in Avoch on the Black Isle.

But the proposal met with objections from many locals.

After visiting the site, Reporter Dan Jackman ruled that the building would be out of character with the local conservation area.

Ms Keith's proposals would have seen a two-storey cafe with single storey wings built on the site of a former filling station in the fishing village's High Street.

I'm very much in favour of the application and would be very disappointed if this project doesn't go ahead
Mike Noble
Avoch resident

In his report, Mr Jackman states: "The High Street elevation is important as to how the proposal would be perceived and I consider that this element would mean that the proposal would be detrimental to the character and appearance of the conservation area."

Ms Keith, 67, and her husband Rodney Timson had appealed to the government, claiming Highland Council was delaying reaching a decision on her planning application.

Ms Keith has the right to appeal to the Court of Session within six weeks on a point of law.

The TV star has been playing Lady Bracknell in a West End revival of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

Black Isle Councillor Billy Barclay welcomed the reporter's decision to refuse the application.

He said: "The planning officer was concerned, as I was, about the appearance of the tea room to people coming through the High Street and I'm glad the reporter highlighted this.

"I hope that at the end of the day if the developer reapplies they will come up with a design more in keeping."

Holiday home

But resident Mike Noble said: "I'm very much in favour of the application and would be very disappointed if this project doesn't go ahead.

"The village needs it if we are to move into the 21st Century. It could be very attractive by the harbour."

A petition of 241 names to the council against the scheme last year led to a claim, still being investigated by the procurator fiscal, that it was inaccurate because it also contained the names of people who backed the proposal.

The actress and her husband, who have a holiday home in nearby Fortrose, purchased the 220 sq ft patch of triangular land in 2005 for 79,000.

A previous application for a restaurant and staff accommodation was rejected following opposition by villagers, because it was "not in keeping" with the area.

Manor reborn for one-off special
30 Oct 07 |  Entertainment
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30 Dec 06 |  Entertainment


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