08 December 2013

Yet More Housing Sought as Work Halts

Work may have come to a standstill at Taymouth Castle but the developers are attempting to win permission for yet more housing in the grounds of the 450-acre estate.
Perth and Kinross Council has received an application for another four luxury ‘residences’ west of the castle, in an area where development was previously refused.
The news will add to the widespread confusion over the future of the estate. More than thirty construction workers have been laid off recently with vague promises that their jobs would be renewed in the New Year.
There are unconfirmed stories that some contractors have had problems getting prompt payment.

New Applications
At the same time, the retinue of consultants and professional advisors hired by Meteor Asset Management, the developers, have been bombarding P&K planners with new applications and amendments to plans.
Since this autumn, five separate new submissions have been filed. Apart from the plan for four more houses, these include:
•  Revised proposals to form a health and beauty spa in the east wing;
•  Altering 14 apartment suites and an external lift access in west wing;
•  Altering three house types – possibly to suit potential buyers.
The main plan for developing the estate now contains no less than 285 documents and must be occupying literally hundreds of hours of planners’ time at Pullar House. 
Glossy Submission
Given the lack of action on site, the application for more houses on the south-west corner of the north lawn in a leafy area close the the River Tay is puzzling. According to a glossy 35-page submission the argument behind it is once again economic. It states:
“The redevelopment of Taymouih Castle Estate, including the Estate properties, is to provide an economic vehicle to revitalise and regenerate the estate, including the conservation, refurbishment, and long-term preservation of the existing estate properties, historic monuments, bridges, historic boundary walls and other features of the histonc landscape.
“The proposed units to the west of the Castle are considered in these terms, and as such their close proximity to the Castle is intended to maximise the revenue realised.”
It acknowledges that previously there was strong opposition to housing in this area. Four houses were proposed here but turned down by P&K and Historic Scotland on the grounds that, with other proposed housing, they would effectively ‘encircle the castle’.

 Allaying Concerns
Since Comment highlighted the layoffs in last month’s edition, Meteor appears to be trying to allay local concerns.
The Courier recently carried a story saying:  “Owner Meteor Property Fund has confirmed it has reduced the number of people working on the Highland Perthshire estate, but insists this is only a temporary measure… Although is it not expected to be up and running for another two years, Taymouth Castle has already attracted a great deal of interest from investors and the architectural sector.”
In contrast, Comment was assured in August by Meteor that the castle would certainly open next year as a luxury hotel.
More recently, there has been talk that the Stakis Group, owned by Hilton, was closely involved. Two estate properties were supposedly sold.

Lack of Candour
With grumbles locally that the project is going the same way as the previous scheme, there is one thing they have in common – the lack of candour with local people. As a result rumours are flying, including ones concerning financing problems.
Another is the execution of construction work. One story from people working on the site suggests that the steel structure of one estate property close to the Tay has been built in the wrong place.
P&K files also show a lot of correspondence about unapproved encroachment into woodland.

Above: An image of one of the proposed new woodland setting dwellings to be constructed at Taymouth


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