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Plans to turn Banff's Local Hero pub into flats recommended for approval

By Kyle Ritchie

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An application for Banff's Ship Inn – which was made famous after it appeared in classic film Local Hero – to be turned into two flats has been recommended for approval by council planners.

George Wood has applied for full planning permission for the change of use to turn the bar, situated at 7 Deveronside, into a pair of residential properties.

The proposal will be assessed during the Banff and Buchan area committee meeting on Tuesday.

In the report that will go before councillors, the local authority's planning department has recommended the plans be granted.

The pub's interior was used for scenes in Bill Forsyth's 1983 movie Local Hero, which starred Peter Riegert, Burt Lancaster, Denis Lawson and Peter Capaldi. It tells the story of an American oil company representative who is sent to the fictional village of Ferness on the west coast of Scotland to purchase the community and surrounding property for the firm. The Pennan Inn was used for exterior shots to portray the local pub.

The plans have garnered national attention with film critic Mark Kermode and Lawson backing calls to save the pub.

The Ship Inn closed it doors due to coronavirus restrictions and has been shut for some time.

The Ship Inn in Banff has been closed for some time.
The Ship Inn in Banff has been closed for some time.

In the report that will be presented councillors it said: "It is proposed to convert the public house into two dwellinghouses in the form of two flats.

"This will require internal and external alterations of the existing pub.

"Internally, the existing bar and lounge areas will be refurbished with the bars and panelling being removed as well as all of the fixed seating to allow the required amount of space for each flat.

"Both dwellings will continue to have access off Deveronside as the main entrance and to the courtyard at the rear for storage and use of bins."

Planners outlined that the key issues in the application are the acceptability in principle of the change of use from a public house to two flats and whether this change would negatively impact the character of the conservation area and listed building.

The report highlights that the proposal complies with the relevant policies as the change of use and the alterations to the property are acceptable in principle and would not significantly detract from the character of the building and conservation area.

It added: "This is due to the internal features having little architectural or historic merit, and the external alterations having a minimal impact on the character and appearance of the category-C listed building.

"The change of use to two dwellinghouses does not create any significant amenity concerns and all technical matters have been addressed."

The plans for the two flats.
The plans for the two flats.

The council has received six objections to the plans whose issues were that the building should remain as a business as it would make it more likely to attract visitors to the town and help the local community with regards to jobs.

The listed building has historic importance and keeping it as a pub would retain its heritage for the future.

There were concerns over the loss of structures within the building which contribute to its character.

Finally, it was highlighted that the bar is a tourist attraction due to being featured in Local Hero and its setting on the mouth of the River Deveron with its wildlife attractions and recreational opportunities. The objector said it should be assessed with the policy relating to this which means it should be marketed for at least 12 months if the business is no longer viable before it is converted to another use.

On these points the report stated that the lack of historic merit to the internal fittings and structures means that their loss would not significantly detract from the character of the building and there are no other significant reconfigurations proposed to the building which would otherwise affect this.

Also only facilities and accommodation which offer rooms can be assessed against tourist policy and as The Ship Inn does not currently provide this it was outlined it is not applicable to this application.

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