PERMISSION has been granted to convert the eyesore Eastgate Hostel in Inverness into holiday flats.
Council planners have given the green light to the proposals for the fire-ravaged building – which has been a blot on the city centre since it was gutted by an early morning fire nearly five years ago.
The application, submitted by Imtaiz Ali, one of the building’s three owners, outlines plans for four one-bed flats on the second and third (attic) floor of the property at 38 Eastgate.
In a second, linked planning application, permission has also been granted to change the first floor of the former hostel into two one-bed flats.
City centre manager David Haas previously said planning for the building’s refurbishment was at "an advanced stage", with tenders for work on the structure were being evaluated.
It is understood that a preferred bidder has been identified "to restore the building to a shell and allow two shops to trade".
The owner’s agent, Iain Sibbald, was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
The Inverness Courier launched a campaign more than a year ago to put pressure on the owners to re-build the severely damaged property.
We have been waiting a staggering 1711 days for a positive sign that action is imminent and building work is to begin.
Local podiatrist and former councillor Jim Crawford previously called for the council to compulsorily purchase the property and clean up the building itself.
"I’ve lost count of people telling me they’re fed up with this eyesore in a town that’s about to spend millions of city-region deal money on a face lift," he said.
Planning permission was granted in April for the reinstatement of the building, including the erection of a stairwell, retaining walls and landscaping.