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Inverness hotel wins fight to keep covid shelter but with temporary planning permission

By Neil MacPhail

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The Beaufort shelter currently being altered.
The Beaufort shelter currently being altered.

An Inverness hotel has had partial success with its application to retain the wooden shelter erected in the forecourt during the covid restrictions on gathering indoors.

Amid concerns over the potential for noise nuisance and being visually unsuitable for a conservation area, the Highland Council has given the Beaufort Hotel five years temporary planning permission for the shed-like structure that has retained its popularity with patrons after the epidemic.

The original proposal from the hotel was to retain the existing structure that can seat more than 40, with its roughly hewn timber cladding.

A planning report for councillors stated: “The rustic nature of the structure was not considered to be appropriate within this prominent location within the Conservation Area.

“The Council’s Conservation Environment Team noted that while the principle of such a shelter in this frontage position may have some merit, its prominence within this heritage designated area requires better quality design and materials.

“A number of different options were put forward by the applicant, and the final proposal is for the retention of the basic post and beam structure, but with the removal of the rustic timber cladding.

“The roof will be replaced with a better-quality transparent covering; the post and beams will be stained a dark grey colour and the lower section will be clad in Cedral timber effect cladding in dark grey.

“The upper portion of the structure will remain open allowing for better permeability through to the hotel. It is considered in design terms that this will result in a considerable improvement to the existing structure,

“However questions remain about the appropriateness of such a temporary structure within the frontage of a building within the Conservation Area and for that reason, and in recognition of the temporary nature of the structure, the planning permission will be temporary only and a further application will require to be submitted after five years.”

Environmental Health noted that the main potential for noise would be from customers, and conditions were imposed requiring the submission of a noise management plan, a ban on playing of amplified music and a restriction on the time the area can be used to 8am and 10pm, Monday to Sunday.

The report adds: “It is noted that the position of the shelter, to the front of the building is further away from residential properties than it would be if it were located to the rear, and we are not aware of any noise complaints having been raised during the time in which it has been operating, therefore with the suggested conditions it is considered that the impact on amenity is not likely to be significant. One letter of representation noted the potential for noise nuisance and suggested an operational time limit which is included.”

Hotel owner Roselyn Fraser said they are now all set for the busy season with this permission along with the recent refurbishment of their front of house area.

About the shelter she said: “The application seemed to take forever to be process, and I am just going to take what I get and not fight it. We have lovely neighbours.”

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