Proposed Hotel- Update 21/02/2020
Good Evening All
In keeping with my commitment to let you know factual information as it becomes available regarding progress in the investigation and feasibility study to commence consultations with the community and LCDC regarding a potential hotel development please see below an email sent to us (LCDC) today from the directors of Bealach Ltd, the potential developer, which is self explanatory.
I have also included below the statement received last night from Bell Ingram again confirming that no agreement has or had been entered into for the sale of land in Kirkton Woodland.
I am also in possession of the list of 7 HIE officials who had been involved in discussions with the directors of Bealach Ltd in relation to this project.
These facts clearly substantiate and reflect the status as described by LCDC as the actual position of the enquiry.
Colin Sharp – Chair – LCDC
From: Gregor Bulloch
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2020 at 09:02
Subject: Bealach update
To: kristine mackenzie
So as mentioned 2 weeks ago in our previous email, the 3 founders of our hotel project (Allan, Gordon and Gregor) have been analysing the project in detail as we are at a critical point when we are about to invest significant funds to take the project forward. We also had a third party provide a detailed financial review for us prior to the formal funding round.
From a financial perspective, the business case has been impacted by both rising build costs and operational costs as well as material risks of Brexit and staffing. The interest rates we were being offered by those banks we were in discussions with were also higher than originally anticipated. These factors combined have limited our ability to create the hotel we had in mind when we started the project.
With all that in mind, we have chosen to put the project on hold indefinitely. We are going to consider other options but for now, please assume no further work will take place.
On behalf of the 3 of us, I’d like to thank you for your efforts to date, it’s been a pleasure to work with you. We are all disappointed that we have been unable to proceed with this but with all things considered, stopping now feels like the right thing to do for all involved, including our partners, as there is no point in us collectively investing more time, effort and money to then stop at a later stage.
Best regards and all the very best for the future,
Allan, Gordon & Gregor.
Further statement from Bell Ingram
An inaccuracy in our EIA screening submission has been drawn to our attention as it appears to be causing some concern within the community. We can confirm that absolutely no agreement has been entered into for the sale of the land in Kirkton Woodland with any party to our knowledge. All that has been agreed is that we would have permission to make such enquiries as are necessary to establish whether the site at Kirkton Woods is suitable for our intended purpose. If the site proves to be suitable, then we would clearly wish to engage with the Community and Lochcarron Community Development Company at that stage.
Regards Iain B Cram Director Bell Ingram Design Limited,
Hotel Development – The Facts- 12/02/2020
We have been approached by several organisations and individuals expressing interest in leasing or potentially purchasing some of the woodland for commercial enterprise. These have ranged from use for storage, manufacture of wood products, manufacture of timber structures to construction of a hotel.
The constitution of LCDC dictates that we must evaluate all approaches made and this we will continue to comply with and of course nothing can be progressed until AFTER community consultation.
At this moment in time LCDC have NOT entered into or agreed to enter into any commercial arrangement with any of these parties nor have we agreed to sell any land whatsoever.
A recent planning application has been misconstrued as an application to construct a hotel when in fact the application, as you will see from the statement below issued by the companies agents, Bell Ingram, is merely to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). It also incorrectly states that LCDC has agreed to sell the land, this is NOT the case. How could we agree to sell a plot of land without knowing it’s value both in terms of absolute value and value to the proposed purchaser, as you will appreciate the two are not necessarily the same.
I understand local rumour is that this is a budget hotel. This is pure fantasy. From the brief conversation that I have been party to the aim is for 5-star top end accommodation with a Michelin style restaurant. Hardly competition for any of the B&Bs, holiday lets, hotels or eateries already in the village.
LCDC will always ensure that the community are made aware and consulted before any changes are made to the assets of LCDC and this was indeed the agreement that we had with the stakeholders in this case.
As this is only an enquiry at this point it would be far too premature to communicate this widely and this communication seeks to clarify where we are.
We have been made aware of many vitriolic and unfounded criticisms and unfortunately some have seen fit to make personal attacks on members and employees of LCDC which is both ill-informed and unjust.
We have on several occasions and indeed our Chair in his last An Carrannach article asked that should anyone have a question then please ask us and get the truth rather than relying on inaccurate rumour. But then why let the truth get in the way of a good rumour?
Statement by the companies agents, Bell Ingram
From early 2019 Bell Ingram have been undertaking a review of the route of the North Coast 500, to establish if there are any suitable sites for new hotels. One of those sites identified as having potential for such a development was the village of Lochcarron. The access to a railway station, and the link from the A890 to Kyle of Lochalsh and on to Skye, making it particularly attractive as somewhere travellers might be persuaded to pause and stay for a few days rather than rush off on their way round the north coast.
As part of this review process we submit an EIA Screening Request to Highland Council to establish if there are any recorded constraints on development in the area, that might have an impact upon any future proposals. This is still a very speculative stage in any development, and until we have all the necessary information, we would not normally expect to commence any form of community engagement. We acknowledge that the process of submitting the EIA screening has been the cause of some concern within the community, and embarrassment for Lochcarron Community Development Company, who kindly allowed us to investigate the potential of the land at Kirkton Woods. We apologise for any unnecessary upset caused by this submission, of which they were not warned in advance.
If at the end of this review process, Lochcarron remains a site that we would be interested in pursuing, then we will discuss this in detail with LCDC, and present our thoughts and proposals to the community at large. To do so at this stage would be very premature however, as it is quite possible that we will not move beyond this stage in the Lochcarron area.
Bell Ingram Design Limited,