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Inverness city centre music venue saved as pub owner scraps backpacker hostel plan

By Alasdair Fraser

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Hootananny. Picture: Andrew Smith
Hootananny. Picture: Andrew Smith

A pub landlord has abandoned plans to turn a popular Inverness live music venue into a city centre hostel, despite winning planning approval for the move.

Hootananny owner Kit Fraser was last week given listed building consent from Highland Council to convert two upper floors of his Church Street premises into low-cost backpacker dormitories.

But with the coronavirus pandemic striking in the eight months since the application was lodged, Mr Fraser has decided he needs all three floors to maximise capacity and enable social distancing within the bar and restaurant.

Currently, live entertainment remains in lockdown, but Mr Fraser’s decision means Mad Hatters, a venue which has showcased up-and-coming and established talent in music and comedy, will survive.

He said: “Covid has changed everything. As far as retaining Mad Hatters as a venue promoting talent from this area and beyond, it may be a blessing in disguise.

“I never wanted a hostel, because I loved Mad Hatters and the Glow Bar.

“Dormitory accommodation is not Covid-friendly. By retaining the two upper floors, I have seating for another 40 or 50 people.”

Mr Fraser confirmed he planned to restart live entertainment whenever the green light is given by government and the safety of customers can be assured.

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