The Drumossie Hotel , on the outskirts of Inverness, will have to restore the windows it removed without permission nine years ago before it can start an £8million development.
Councillors today upheld the recommendation of its planners to refuse the £8 million development proposals until the wrangle over the hotel's 80-year-old windows is resolved.
Monument Leisure wants to add a conference centre, swimming pool, spa, a three-storey block of bedrooms and an extended restaurant.
As well as providing direct employment and attracting more business into the city, the company — part of the Macdonald Hotels group — says 80 construction jobs would be created.
However, it combined its planning application with a bid for retrospective consent for uPVC windows it controversially fitted into the frontage of the B-listed art deco building during a refurbishment in 2003 and which it has been resisting council demands to remove ever since.
Consequently, the whole project was rejected by Highland Council’s south planning applications committee today where three out of four objections centred on the windows.
Conservation bodies had urged the local authority to stand firm.
Ranald Smith, secretary of Inverness Civic Trust, pointed out the hotel’s owners had failed to honour an agreement to restore the 1930s frontage.
"It is the opinion of the trust that the application should only be granted if there is a firm undertaking that the integrity of this listed building is restored by reinstating the windows as originally designed," he stated.
Historic Scotland’s Aonghus Mackechnie believed the existing windows were in conflict with the Drumossie’s status as a rare example of a 1930s roadhouse.
But before the meeting Stewart Nicol, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce, backed the hotel, describing the recommendation for refusal as "very shortsighted".
"Given the size of the investment, and the size of the job creation opportunities, I think this is extremely disappointing," he said.