Plans lodged for Inverness Airport hotel
A NEW hotel just five minutes from Inverness Airport will set the stage for a business boom, it has been claimed.
Proposals for a 130-bedroom development to be run by a "well-known international hotel chain" on the site of the Inverness Airport Business Park (IABP) have been lodged with Highland Council, months after the idea appeared to receive a somewhat muted response.
It was reported last November how an online video promoting the hotel vision by IABP had attracted barely 300 views over the course of a month.
Chairman James Campbell, however, insisted there was a strong case for additional hotel accommodation across Inverness.
As the plans were unveiled this week, he said: "This planning application is further proof of the strength of the local economy and sets the stage for us to welcome more major businesses to IABP.
"The proximity of IABP to Inverness Airport allows businesses to benefit from the airport’s excellent connectivity and international trade routes.
"With record traffic and passenger figures in recent years, Inverness Airport continues to go from strength to strength. A new hotel will play a key role in supporting the local economy’s continued growth."
Construction work is set to be undertaken by international firm Polcom Developments.
Managing director Ross Morrow said: "The proposed hotel, which will be branded by a well-known international hotel chain, will provide accommodation, meeting and fitness facilities for airport users, overseas visitors and local businesses.
"Polcom Developments has extensive experience in developing airport hotels, having recently been involved in the construction of a 250-bedroom hotel at Luton Airport."
The firm also recently completed a 160-bedroom Marriott hotel on the Heriot Watt University campus, just a few miles from Edinburgh Airport.
A design and access statement submitted to council planners places the hotel within the context of a wider masterplan for the development of the business park which Inverness Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stewart Nicol previously said was "more slow burn than anybody would want".
It had secured just two tenants between 2011 and last year, before the Co-op also confirmed construction of a new distribution facility there.
The site planned for the hotel is currently unoccupied but was previously used for agricultural grazing.
Said to be five minutes’ walk from the airport, a new access road will have to be created as part of any development.
Inverness economist Tony Mackay previously queried the viability of a hotel at the airport after Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) tendered for a similar development at its Inverness Campus.
This week he acknowledged that the fall in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote was continuing to fuel a tourist boom in the Highlands.
"There have been plans for a hotel at Inverness airport for many years but none of them has gone ahead yet," he said.
"I think that most of the hotel operators prefer locations in or close to the city centre rather than out at the airport.
"However, it seems that IABP have now found a hotel operator willing to take the risk of the airport location.
"Inverness Airport has done very well in recent years and the hotel investment and jobs should be an excellent addition to the facilities there."
Inverness Central councillor Bet McAllister also welcomed the plans.
"I think it will be good for tourists and those from further north who need to catch a late or early flight," she said.