Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Sunday, 5 October 2008 12:22 UK

Hotel boss slams planning system

Macdonald resort, Aviemore. Picture by Macdonald Hotels
The development will be built at the MacDonald resort

The chief executive of one of Scotland's largest leisure groups has called for Scotland's planning laws to be overhauled.

David Guile, of Macdonald Hotels, said planning in Scotland had become a "major frustration".

Mr Guile said delays to the Aviemore Highland Resort meant the company was losing money "on a daily basis".

A final decision on the 80m Aviemore extension will be made by the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

The application which includes improvements to the complex, a new supermarket and 160 houses, has been mired in controversy.

In March, the Scottish Government denied claims it acted inappropriately in helping to save the application.

Ministers contacted environment bosses and the chief planner after Macdonald Hotels threatened to the scrap plans because of delays caused by concerns over flooding risk assesments.

Labour's Andy Kerr voiced concerns because the developer previously made a 30,000 donation to the SNP.

Despite the government's intervention, the detailed application still remains with the Cairngorms Park Authority.

Mr Guile told BBC Radio Scotland's The Business he was "hopeful of a resolution to the Aviemore planning wrangles.

He said: "Planning in Scotland has become a major frustration to us as a company, as we have seen in Aviemore, and to other businesses in Scotland.

"Having been involved in similar developments across the UK, it is very apparent to me that there is a marked difference in Scotland.

"There is much less willingness to provide co-operation and support and the applications are protracted and cumbersome."

Stronger position

Mr Guile said he was delighted that senior politicians were "putting planning on the agenda".

He said the Aviemore project was only half finished and the company was losing money because of the delays.

The Macdonald Aviemore Highland Resort is run by a consortium including Macdonald Hotels, Tulloch and HBOS.

Mr Guile said it was "business as usual" despite the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB.

However, he added that funding could be an issue as the economic crisis deepens.

Mr Guile also said that the delay could affect the plans.

He said: "If we had been able to push forward these plans earlier we would have been in a much stronger position now with many of the houses already sold."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "As a modern country, Scotland needs a planning system which is an aid, not an obstacle, to economic growth.

"Implementing the provisions of the 2006 Planning Act is well under way - this landmark piece of legislation forms the basis of a reformed planning system but legislation alone will not deliver this.

"That's why the Scottish Government is examining ways of improving efficiency and reducing bureaucracy in the planning system."

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