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Banff holiday lodges proposal is approved by councillors

By Kirstie Topp - Local Democracy Reporter

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A Banff businessman has been given the go-ahead to build two holiday lodges that could help to bring a tourism boost to the town.

Spotty Bag Shop owner Des Cheyne lodged plans for the short-term lets at Douneside last September.

They will be built on a scenic site overlooking Banff Bridge, next to the ground of the former Banff Bridge railway station building.

An artist impression of the new holiday lodges in Banff. Picture: Aberdeenshire Council
An artist impression of the new holiday lodges in Banff. Picture: Aberdeenshire Council

Mr Cheyne argued the holiday homes would bring much-needed jobs to the area and “create economic prosperity”.

He also hoped the lodges would encourage more visitors to stop and spend time in Banff instead of simply driving past.

Councillors discussed the plan last month, but agreed to visit the site first before making a final decision.

However, it went before the Banff and Buchan area committee for a second time today.

Aberdeenshire Council’s roads team had objected to the application over concerns about the “substandard” A947 junction leading to the site.

Principal engineer Kenn Clark told the committee it was “fundamentally an unsafe junction” adding: “It is one of the worst I can think of in Aberdeenshire”.

Local authority planners had also recommended the plan be refused, arguing it would negatively impact the character and setting of the listed Temple of Venus and Banff Bridge.

Mr Cheyne spoke at the meeting to try and convince councillors to back his latest project.

He said: “Over the last 20 years we’ve seen a dramatic downturn in footfall and businesses, not to mention the huge deprivation occurring in the town.

“I highlighted almost 15 years ago through the now defunct business association that tourism was the last throw of the dice.

Banff businessman Des Cheyne. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Banff businessman Des Cheyne. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

“What’s becoming apparent is a lot of visitors are driving through the town with the continual reduction in beds.

“With this in mind, I came up with the log cabin idea.

“Over the years I have put my head above the parapet for Banff and feel this is a good chance to allow the town to thrive rather than just survive.”

Banff councillor Glen Reynolds suggested the committee go against the planners recommendation and approve the plan instead.

He argued that the development would “regenerate that entire area”.

“What is proposed here will enhance the conservation area and be a step forward from what we have at the moment,” he stated.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that what is envisaged here would be economically beneficial and enhance tourism.”

Committee chairwoman Doreen Mair agreed that more needed to be done to improve tourism in the area, but raised worries about road safety.

She said: “It is a very busy junction.

“Having been to the site visit last week, trying to get across the road and up to the site itself was quite a task.

“Having travelled through it quite a few times, you often see traffic backed up in both directions.

“I have real concerns about people who are not familiar with the road, using that junction.”

But despite these fears, the committee unanimously agreed to approve the holiday lodges.

Mr Cheyne had originally planned to place three lodges on the site but that proposal was refused back in 2021.

Demolition of the former railway station building at Douneside. Picture: Aberdeenshire Council
Demolition of the former railway station building at Douneside. Picture: Aberdeenshire Council

Determined to see the lodges come to fruition, he reduced his plan to just two following feedback from Historic Environment Scotland.

The design of the lodges was also amended to ensure they fit into the surrounding landscape.

Now, each holiday home will have a timber cladding finish, complete with a shallow grass covered roof.

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