11 November 2013

Confusion Envelops Castle Project

THE FUTURE of Taymouth Castle is again looking doubtful with the abrupt dismissal of over 30 tradesmen working on the historic building and construction sites in the grounds.
According to architect Eric Stickland this is just a temporary glitch caused by alterations being made to the castle interior, but as Comment went to press local suppliers were expressing concern about getting paid – a mirror of what happened when the previous development collapsed.
Some of those laid off have apparently been told that Perth & Kinross Council intervened to stop work going ahead because it was not in accordance with building warrants.
Some have been told they will be rehired in the next few weeks but several have vowed not to return, voicing their frustration about the lack of information from the project managers.
The London-based investment group Meteor Asset Management that now owns the estate launched a marketing campaign in August to promote the scheme to the press and the property world. It described the castle as being a “luxury boutique-style hotel” that will include a pool and spas in a roofed-over courtyard in the east wing, five star dining and superior golfing facilities.

Luxury Housing
Around the 450-acre grounds 160 luxury estate properties priced at £800,000 to £1.2m are to be built of which one is almost complete and supposedly sold. Unfortunately, a major problem with the construction of the dry-stone clad chimney has delayed its completion.
Meteor’s man in charge, Martin Mortimer, told Comment the hotel would open next year with 31 suites. He said talks were in progress with major hotel operators to take it over and completion of the hotel suites would depend on the chosen operators requirements.

Lay-Off Explanation
The latest rumour is that it will become a Stakis Hotel, now a part of the Hilton chain. Eric Strickland did not name the operator but he told Comment a deal was close to being struck and, pending that, work had been scaled down.
He added: “Since receiving planning permission in June 2013 we have made significant progress pushing ahead with the first phase of the restoration of Taymouth Castle Estate, which is now almost complete. The painstaking restoration of the historic Principal Rooms has now largely been completed and the Spikes Bar, in the west wing of the castle, is ready and waiting.
“The first new show residence is due to be completed later in November.  In addition, good progress is also being made on the enhancement and reinstatement of the estate’s footpath network as well as the restoration of a number of the existing tees and bunker complexes on the original James Braid designed golf course.
“We are currently at the really exciting stage of being in detailed discussions with a potential operator for the hotel, which has resulted in us needing to make design changes to the internal layouts of the bedrooms/suites as well as to the Pamper Spa so it is more suited to the operator’s individual business model. 
“Unfortunately, therefore, work on the restoration and fit out of the upper floors of the castle - where these rooms will be located along with the East Wing - has had to slow down until the negotiations are finalised.  Remedial repairs to the East wing are continuing.”

Winter Encroaching
He continued: “Like all developments we also have to contend with the imminent onset of winter which we always knew would mean that external work to the castle and residences as well as the renovation of the estate and golf course would slow down.
“These factors have made it necessary to temporarily reduce the number of people on site working on the project, whilst we refine the internal layouts. 
It is hoped that the hotel operator can be confirmed as soon as possible and internal layouts signed off, thereby enabling us to continue with phase two of the project.  We are ahead of schedule and as such pleased with progress made to date.”

Local Scepticism
This optimistic picture is not shared by some of the people laid off who pointed out that the weather has been mild making it all the more imperative that work is kept going.
They are also puzzled that work on estate properties has been curtailed, and these are not related to the castle/hotel redevelopment.


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