Villagers opposed to Black Isle museum move to convert private house in Rosemarkie aim to persuade Highland Council to reject the plan
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Rosemarkie’s Groam House Museum needs to find new space after being asked to vacate an old stable block it rents on Rosehaugh Estate seven miles away.
A museum trustee, Barbara Cohen, has bought a two-bedroom house at 19 High Street, close to Groam House, and offered to allow the museum to use it.
Locals angered by the plan previously said it removes a home from the local property market at a time of housing shortages and will contribute to spiralling property costs.
They have also raised concerns that allowing public access to the new museum premises for workshops and exhibitions will exacerbate traffic congestion and parking issues in the village.
The museum holds Celtic, Pictish and other collections of international significance,
Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council held a public meeting last Friday at the village’s Beach Café attended by 32 people, with the museum’s Doug Maclean in attendance to respond to concerns voiced.
After heated debate on the issues, a vote was cast among those present - with an overwhelming majority opposing the museum’s change of use planning application now before Highland Council.
In a statement, Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council chairman Anne Phillips said: “As a community council, we have always supported the museum and see it as an asset to our village. We look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.
“As a result of Friday’s meeting we are in the process of drafting a response to The Highland Council.
“This follows a community vote asking the CC to take forward the community majority view opposing the change of use planning application.
“Of 32 members of the public in attendance, 20 supported this view and one showed support for Groam House Museum. Others abstained or were outside the IV10 catchment area.
“There are strong concerns locally about parking, traffic and loss of housing.”
The application before the council has currently attracted 13 public comments, with nine opposed and four supportive of the Groam House Museum move.
At the 90-minute meeting, Mr Maclean defended the board of Groam House against accusations of “misinformation” and claims that trustees had been less than transparent in acquiring 19 High Street for museum use.
The museum chairman told the meeting that trustees didn’t expect to own and occupy the High Street house for more than between five to 10 years, with alternative accommodation sought longer-term.
He said Groam House was prepared to accept a planning condition to that effect, returning the property to domestic use when no longer required.