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The end of the Ironworks as hotel plan gets the go ahead from Highland Council on the narrowest possible margin paving the way for work to start on building a £30 million Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Inverness

By Scott Maclennan

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The redrawn proposal for a Courtyard By Marriott hotel at the Ironworks site on Academy Street
The redrawn proposal for a Courtyard By Marriott hotel at the Ironworks site on Academy Street

The long-running saga of whether a hotel will be built on the site of the Ironworks has in the last few minutes ended – Highland Councillors have just granted planning permission on narrowest possible margin.

Of 15 members of south planning applications committee entitled to vote – seven voted to approve the plan and seven voted against with one abstention. The decision then fell to chairman Councillor Thomas MacLennan whose casting vote saw approval granted.

Objections from music fans mourning the impending loss of the city’s main music venue, the impact on the historic environment, petitions and members’ general dissatisfaction with the hotel’s architecture were not enough to stop the project.

Instead Inverness will get a major new £30 million 155-bedroom hotel that can accommodate up to 100,000 visitors a year, creating 90 construction jobs for two years followed by 65 full-time hospitality jobs.

Related Story – Surprise decision sees councillors grant the Ironworks a reprieve as plans to demolish the main music venue in Inverness and build a hotel were deferred

Developer Bricks Group has been trying since 2019 to get approval for the scheme, even significantly redrawing plans to meet earlier design criticisms.

The same councillors who had previously criticised the the architecture and impact on Riverside Conservation area did so again.

Cllr Laurie Fraser described the hotel as “monolithic” and tabled a motion to refuse based on what he saw as its unacceptable impact on surrounding buildings.

The vote produced a very rare tie which was then resolved by the casting vote of the chairman.


Now the hotel has planning permission the Ironworks will be demolished to make way for what is the latest addition to the city.

However, the venue may well have been doomed anyway since planning permission is still active for a student halls of residence.

Bricks preferred to establish a Courtyard by Marriot including a café/bar, restaurant and two gyms – one for guests and the other for the general public.

Earlier this week Bricks said it has been answered all queries regarding the project and were "optimistic" that it would pass at committee.

A spokesman said: “Following the previous meeting, we have addressed every query raised, as a result of which a fact sheet has been submitted to committee members, which we think will be helpful.

“A YouTube link, showing the design, has also been forwarded to the council. We’re going into the meeting with a positive recommendation from the council’s own planning officials and its expert design review panel.

“We have clarified everything asked of us, so we remain optimistic.

“This £30 million project is the biggest private sector inward investment in the city, which the planning committee will face in the next year, and can be of significant benefit to reinvigorating the city centre.”

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