Home   News   Article

PICTURES: 'Considerable' investment to transform historic Belladrum building into wedding venue

By Philip Murray

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
The centre of the building, from the front.
The centre of the building, from the front.

A HISTORIC listed building known to music festival fans around the world looks set to return to life as a wedding venue after Highland Council planners greenlit proposals at Belladrum Farm.

The Belladrum Estate has successfully secured a change of use permission for the farm's visually striking 19th century coach house and clock tower building, which was given listed building status in 1971 but which is currently vacant and mostly boarded up.

Although planners note that the site is wind and watertight, the new planning permission looks set to return the building to more active use, with a range of internal alterations planned in order to turn it into a ceilidh-style wedding venue.

The move is set to open a new chapter on the estate's successful and growing wedding business – which currently runs tented events linked to its popular temple and chapel, but will now be able to enjoy a permanent home inside a picturesque building on the estate.

Related: Belladrum festival names Inverness-based Elsie Normington Foundation as its charity partner for 2024

Related: James Arthur, Ocean Colour Scene and Jake Bugg added to Belladrum 2024 line-up

Sign up to our newsletter.

The estate's Joe Gibbs – known to music fans as the brains behind the phenomenally successful Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, which also takes place on the farm's land – said the plans for a dedicated wedding venue on site will hopefully create five to eight full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.

Looking towards the north-east side of the building from the front.
Looking towards the north-east side of the building from the front.

"We have already invested probably about £300,000 in the fabric of the [coach house] building, which has been done gradually over the last 10 years," he said. "The next stage is to turn it into what will probably be an upmarket ceilidh wedding venue."

He added that it will have a guest capacity of 150, and stressed that while the number of new jobs he hopes to create is still "very much an estimate" he is optimistic that up to eight FTE roles will be created.

Mr Gibbs added that around another £400,000 will likely be spent fitting out the building's interior and that the "investment will be considerable", with a view to opening by spring 2025.

He continued: "The coach house and clock tower will be familiar to many – everybody who comes to the festival walks past it.

The steading's southern gable end.
The steading's southern gable end.

"Because Belladrum is such a well known place we anticipate quite a lot of demand for [the venue]. Lots of babies are called Bella because of fans of the festival and now they can come and get married here as well."

Under the proposals the existing tractor shed and workshop in the building's southern wing will be turned into a dining area, kitchen facilities, plating up area and male and female restrooms.

Elsewhere, the building's northern wing will feature a bar, congregation area with removable seating, and a raised timber stage for ceremonies to take place.

The south-west flank of the building, from the front.
The south-west flank of the building, from the front.

The upper floor will include a mezzanine sitting area above the congregation area, as well as two separate apartments. These apartments are not part of the planning application and have previously secured separate planning consent.

In their decision report, Highland Council planners added that the "only questionable element" to the proposal was the relative lack of accommodation on site or close by for wedding guests.

It adds: "The planning statement suggests that the proposal will boost Inverness hotel demand which confirms that wedding guests will have to engage in unnecessary vehicular travel to/from the venue.

Inside the southern wing of the building, looking north.
Inside the southern wing of the building, looking north.

"A transfer service for wedding guests to/from Inverness would be sensible adjustment. Notwithstanding, this is a part-time wedding venue which wouldn’t be classified as a significant footfall generating use."

They added that the "servicing capacity of the site (particularly parking, road access and foul drainage) is adequate for infrequent events".

Responses from the public to the proposals raised concerns over increased traffic on the single-track road to the junction with the A833, potential noise and light impact on residential amenity, and worries over the development's effect on private water supplies.

The middle section of the building, on the first floor.
The middle section of the building, on the first floor.

Addressing those concerns, council planners said that the use of the public road for access "has been subject to lengthy assessment by Transport Planning, with negotiation over improvements to the road". These will include improved passing places and hedge reduction to boost visibility, and are attached as conditions, as too is "enhancement of the junction with the A833".

Noise and light levels, and any impact on water supply, will also be "subject to further assessment via conditions".

Mr Gibbs, speaking to the Courier, moved to reassure neighbours that there are "really quite extensive conditions" attached to the approval, with "quite a lot of work to the road" to ensure the venue isn't a nuisance.

The steading's old windows are still stored inside.
The steading's old windows are still stored inside.

Granting permission, planning officers said: "This steading building has been empty and un-used for some time, and... its re-use is welcomed.

"Externally, the main change to the listed building is the reinstatement of doors and windows to the many boarded-up openings, using existing/original as templates.

"The internal works, while extensive, are having a relatively low impact on the original/historic layout, and a minimal impact upon historic fabric. Internally, as is typical with agricultural buildings, the spaces were strictly utilitarian with little fabric or detailing of particular interest, and alterations were already under-way for the previously consented works.

"Externally the works are generally reinstating fabric and detailing, which should greatly enhance the outer character of the listed building. The new proposals will fit-out the building for its new uses in a generally sensitive and flexible manner, hopefully leading to a more sustainable (and active) future for the building."

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More