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Plans lodged by Dame Ann Gloag for holiday development at her castle estate near Beauly

By Val Sweeney

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A public exhibition on plans for woodland visitor accommodation on the Beaufort Castle estate was held last year.
A public exhibition on plans for woodland visitor accommodation on the Beaufort Castle estate was held last year.

Plans by business tycoon Dame Ann Gloag to develop a woodland holiday site on her estate at Beaufort Castle near Beauly have taken a step forward.

A planning in principle application for the development, including 50 lodges and a glamping field, have been lodged with Highland Council.

Details of the proposed project on a woodland site to the west of the A833 first emerged last September when a public consultation was held in Kiltarlity.

The application has been lodged under the name of Edinburgh-based Gloag Investments, of which Mrs Gloag is a director, and is being handled by Savills Planning in Edinburgh.

It includes proposals for one, two and three-bedroomed lodges mainly arranged in loose clusters of four, a glamping field and service buildings including an amenity block/wash house with a small retail area and café.

There are also plans for a shuttlebus drop-off area and footpaths through the woods including a route connecting with the A862.

An accompanying design statement maintains there is a need for such a development.

"Conscious of the rising number of visitors to the wider Beauly Firth, and the continued success of the North Coast 500, the applicants wanted to try and address unmet visitor accommodation demand by generating economic benefits for the local area," it states.

"This project has sought to ensure that rural areas and not just urban centres will benefit from the change in visitor numbers and profile."

It says major attractions in the area such as Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness by Jacobite, Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, Glen Ord Distillery Visitor Centre and Tomatin Distillery Visitor Centre showed marked increases in visitor numbers in 2018 from the previous year.

"The wedding market: the proposed development could tap into the flourishing Highland wedding market, particularly by offering additional accommodation when the main venue cannot accommodate all the guests," it continues.

It also believes the development could be attractive to anglers, golfers, cyclists and wildlife watchers.

"The overall picture is of healthy demand for self-catering properties in the Highlands, with scope to develop new facilities in the Inverness/Beauly area, particularly at the higher-quality end of the market without adversely affecting existing operators," the statement adds.

Mrs Gloag, who co-founded the international Stagecoach transport group with her brother Sir Brian Souter, bought Beaufort Castle in 1995 after the 16th Lord Lovat, Simon Fraser, was forced to sell his inheritance to pay off family debts. She also owns Kinfauns Castle, near Perth.

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