A £10 million hotel and retail attraction dubbed “The House of Bruar of the north” and promising more than 100 new jobs has been granted planning permission by Highland Council.
Planning officials exercised delegated powers to approve Tomatin Trading Company’s long-held ambition for a 99-bedroom hotel, farm shop, 200-seat restaurant, drive-through bakery, shops and a filling station.
Praising Inverness planners for “spurring economic growth”, the hotel development’s managing director William Frame said the 12-month building project could start in spring, creating 40 construction jobs and 70 long-term hotel and retail posts initially.
“I’m very pleased that planning has been granted,” he said.
“It means that we can push on with the hard part, which is getting the development built and creating a destination that reflects the very best in food, drink, gifts and accommodation that Scotland has to offer.”
Community leaders including Inverness South councillors Duncan Macpherson and Ken Gowans, welcomed the Tomatin project saying it would be a real asset to Inverness’s southern gateway.
Cllr Macpherson said comparisons had been drawn between the project and the lucrative House of Bruar near Blair Atholl and it will be exciting to watch the “ambitious plan” come to fruition.
The 3.5-acre brownfield site had detailed mixed-use consent for hotel, restaurant and retail use which was granted in 2007.
Things were delayed by a combination of complex planning conditions, the banking crisis and confirmation of a new road layout for the imminent dualling of the nearby stretch of the A9.
The site was previously occupied by the Freemore Hotel and, later, a Little Chef roadside restaurant that was demolished in 2008.
Mr Frame, who is the principal of Braemore Estates, said getting to the planning permission stage had been “a really long slog”.
He added: “It was hard to get agreement from many different people but we are now moving forward and I have to say Inverness planners were excellent. They want to see economic development, that’s for sure.
“It’s heartening to deal with a planning department that backs business. It’s not like that everywhere, I can tell you.”
Cllr Gowans said the large-scale development would be “really good for the area”.
He added: “It’s going to bring a lot of revenue to the area and I’m sure the community will be very supportive of it as well.”
This was echoed by Vivian Roden, Strathdearn Community Council chairwoman, who said “overall” it was good for the area.
“I think it’s good for jobs,” she said. “We have lost so many facilities as a community over the last few years. This will put some of them back in.”