Just what IS going on at Taymouth Castle and when is Meteor Assets Management going to be straight about its intentions and state unequivocally that it owns the estate and will get on with local consultation?
That is the bundle of questions arising following a recent meeting held between Kenmore & District Community Council and architects Eric Strickland and Neil Martin of McKenzie Strickland Associates (MSA).  According to one participant at the meeting, there were no new plans to view at that stage, just a ‘walk through’ of an old plan, whilst ‘the essential changes that were required’ were pointed out.
It was reported that these, basically, involve a change to the design of the 96 lodges already in the plans from flat to gabled roofs, and the building of a further unspecified number of lodges to compensate for the current 72 suite hotel proposal which will be ‘put on the back burner’. Also on the back burner, but not forgotten, is the castle itself, which would continue to progress at a slower pace.
A number of other changes relating to spas, restaurants and bars were mentioned at the meeting with the community council and the proposal was reaffirmed to include improvements to the golf course to championship status. The priority here was identified as getting the development in place for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Autumn 2016. The possibility of keeping the golf course open is being considered. The option appears to be to run it as a nine-hole course, the course improvement progressing in line with the unfolding development.

Vague Intentions
Concern was expressed by one of those attending the meeting that the intentions are so vague and that there is little about them in the public domain.
Upon learning that McKenzie Strickland Associates (MSA) had been appointed the lead consultants and principle architects for the latest project for the estate, Comment wrote to them, on 16 December: “...it would be most useful...to have some information for publication on the proposed changes to the planning application and their rationale etc. Also information about the current work in progress on the estate would be appreciated by readers, and how that fits into the overall picture...”
On 23 December, Linda Welch, a director of Halogen PR working for Meteor, replied: “Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to provide the detail you are asking for ...as the design team is still working on the plans.
“We are aiming to start public consultation before the end of January... We will certainly let you know all the details once we are in a position to do so.”

Consultation Obligation
Reflecting upon the meeting with the community council, the participant said: “I tend to the conclusion that the important issue is what P&K can be persuaded to change or include. Then, perhaps, Meteor will finally sign up.”
A Proposal of Application Notice was registered with P&K on 19 November 2012. This initiated a twelve-week period for consultation with the community to be conducted prior to any formal Application being made to P&K. This period ends on 14 February. The company applying is required to advise how this consultation will be conducted.
Meteor, or its agents, are required to provide this 12-week period of consultation with the community before it presents its revised application to P&K. Upon Comment going to press there has been no clear word from Meteor about how this consultation is to be carried out, though Eric Strickland is reported to have suggested that they do not want to hold a public meeting, but instead hold a walk-in consultation opportunity sometime during February.

Address Concerns
Kenmore community councillor and chairman of the Breadalbane Development Association, Peter Ely, observed: “It is certainly difficult to envisage any effective consultation taking place without detailed plans of what is proposed. The developers have a duty to consult widely, with this community and adjoining communities.
“Surely by now they should be publishing how they intend to do it. They should be proactive in this to ensure they understand how the communities feel, and find out what needs to be addressed.”
Evaluating the possible future success of the latest version of this project for Taymouth, he emphasised: “The community at large has always supported development proposals, but history tells of failures to address concerns. Meteor will need to have an effective and transparent approach and aim to address the failures by previous owners and developers.”

Above: Taymouth Castle pictured by MSA


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