A developer behind plans to transform a Highland youth hostel into a top luxury hotel has revealed their reasons for walking away from the deal.
Glasgow-based Aberdeen Capital Ltd last year pledged to invest millions to create a five-star hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant in Carbisdale Castle near Bonar Bridge in Sutherland.
However, the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA), which owns the historic building, last week confirmed the deal was not going ahead.
And yesterday, a spokesman for the developer said the company pulled out for a number of reasons, including a planned community buy-out of nearby woodland and a proposed wind farm.
He said they made an offer for the castle in late 2014, with the condition that the company could purchase some additional land from Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS).
But last year, Culrain Village Hall Committee formed the Kyle of Sutherland Forest Trust to register an interest in buying some of the land around the castle.
The company spokesman claimed: “Culrain Village Hall Committee’s intentions were to stop this development and they used every conceived instrument to stop it.”
And he added the next blow was when the firm discovered plans for an 18-turbine wind farm at nearby Braemore Forest.
The spokesman continued: “We can honestly say, this was something we never saw coming and we were tempted to pull out of this deal, enough is enough.”
The company claim to have since discovered the wind farm had been mooted long before they made their offer for the castle.
He said: “Had we known this in May 2014, we certainly would have approached the whole project in a completely different manner.”
He said this meant the time spent on the project over the past two years had been “a total waste of our time”.
The company had pledged an initial investment of £6.5million with a total investment of £15million planned.
The spokesman added: “Then in January 2016 we heard the Culrain village had submitted a community right to buy application, so in the end our two main funders pulled the plug.”
Anne Henderson, who is chairwoman of the Kyle of Sutherland Forest Trust, said last night: “We’ve never been against the castle being developed and we understand it needs some land around it.
“All we’re trying to do is protect the rest of the forest so we’ve registered an interest in 112 hectares (277 acres) outwith the 56 acres that Aberdeen Capital Ltd wanted to buy.”
SYHA did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
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