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The planning application for the proposed demolition of McLaren Hotel in Brodick and erection of new hotel and restaurant has sparked a major debate. Here are just some of the individual objections which have been submitted to North Ayrshire Council planners.
Tuesday June 5
NAC housebuilding guidelines promote the notion of buildings ‘thoughtfully designed for its specific location’. This should apply to public buildings in Arran’s largest village. Instead, this hotel proposal is grotesquely out of keeping and out of scale with Brodick’s surrounds. It is a massive blockhouse with a huge capacity way in excess of the norm for a rural hotel on the island which would be about 20 rooms instead of 96. Permitting this will begin a process of unwelcome change in the dynamics of Arran and establish a precedent for insensitive, ugly and out of proportion development in Scottish islands. Planners need to show understanding, sensitivity and respect by rejecting this application.
Monday June 4
I object to these plans in their present form for the following reasons:
1. Too large for the plot, overly tall, and does not suit the architecture of Arran with its flat roof and faux sandstone facing
2. Inadequate parking
3. Inadequate accommodation for housekeeping, restaurant staff and I ask the planners not be fluffed off with suggestions that staff accommodation will be built or purchased!
4. This is one of the prime sites on Arran. This is not Largs in a large urban setting but an island community
5. Several hotels on Arran are closing, changing their use, often to holiday flats or up for sale. Further, Altachorvie in Lamlash with many rooms and chalets wishes to be classed as urban rather than countryside with a wish to build up to 10 homes on the site. This suggests hotels are less of a financial proposition on Arran than previously, unless they offer additional facilities. The larger hotels such as Auchrannie Resort and Kinloch Hotel in Blackwaterfoot, have these additional facilities, be they swimming pools, beauty centres, fitness facilities or general spa and leisure facilities, gyms and even play barns. This proposition has nothing of this sort and apparently will rely on cheap group travel
6. Airbnb is changing the island, and how individuals are booking rooms. There are now 125 airbnb places on Arran. Since, increasingly, people bring their cars because of the cheapness of RET, reaching accommodation is less problematic than in previous years and not public transport dependent when visitors are on the island. This must be considered when looking at the economic projections for this huge hotel. Airbnb is changing tourism, whether it is good for long-term viability of the island or not. What it does mean is less accommodation available for those actually working on the island, except in slack winter times, when staff are often laid off from employment and land up in expensive and damp holiday lets for a few months before having to leave again.
So what might be alternative options for this site?
It would seem to me that what might work is a boutique hotel, with a small number of rooms and high-end market set-up. Perhaps with a maximum of 25-30 rooms. A prestigious addition in design to Brodick.
There is, however, an urgent need for relative low cost, small flat, rented accommodation to house staff of many types appointed to the island to keep services viable and operational: care staff, nurses, teachers, social workers and other professional staff, including doctors, or police on the island might make a sound financial proposition for these developers.
Not to be sold as a speculative development, but to be earmarked for those providing medical, social and teaching services to islanders of all ages. There is an increasing need for such flats. The viability of Arran as a viable residential proposition is reaching a critical point. Are we to be a holiday only island with fewer and fewer islanders resident 24/7?
Without these critical support staff across many NAC functions including social care, home care and education, North Ayrshire and Arran NHS, including nurses, doctors, ambulance staff and ancillary staff supporting the hospital, islanders will be forced to leave.
The planners of NAC and the Executive team in the Economy and Communities function must think beyond numbers of tourists and economy, economy, economy. Quality of environment, sustainability and the social networks of the communities are vital ingredients to the future of Arran. Numbers of ‘tourist beds’ is a lousy way to measure success. Should planning considerations be dictated by previous use of this site permission? Should it only be contingent on the capacity and physical size of the existing McLaren Hotel building being retained? It is however hoped that any developers should have more imagination than that.
Sunday June 3
While supporting the concept of a new mid-range hotel in Brodick in principle, I object to the specific proposal put forward by Abode on the following grounds:
1. The development is too large, exceeding the realistic capacity of the site.
2. A four-storey building on Arran is novel and will dwarf existing building in the vicinity.
3. The structure’s frontage breaches the front line of the existing buildings on the Brodick sea front.
4. The structure’s height is increased by the necessity of raising its base to mitigate flood risk.
5. The suggested cladding of the frontage will present a forbidding appearance, detrimental to Brodick’s existing charm.
6. The building’s style is out of keeping with other buildings in the area.
7. Parking is inadequate. It is already often impossible to park in public parking in the area.
8. Although Abode acknowledge the need for staff accommodation, their proposal is vague, hinting at some naivety about this aspect of any development on Arran. Staff accommodation arrangements would be fully disclosed at this point.
9. The Abode Business Plan makes no reference to attracting coach parties, although this would seem a natural element of mid-range hotel business. Abode should address this question specifically, including any necessary infrastructure.
Friday June 1
I wish to oppose the proposed plan on the following grounds.
Too tall. Four storeys is taller than any other hotel on the island and not in keeping with the seafront in Brodick
Too large. A previous application for a development of apartments on this site was refused. That proposal was for a wider, but shallower, development which did not project as far towards the seafront as this plan.
Not in keeping with other developments on the seafront. It is more in keeping with a large, mainland, town or city.
Lack of staff accommodation for the 30-40 staff.
Currently there are always appeals from hoteliers and businesses for accommodation for their staff members, so where will these staff members stay?
Lack of parking. Ninety-seven rooms, plus staff and restaurant diners, will generate more vehicular traffic on the already congested front. Whilst not every room will have residents arriving by car, a high percentage will have arrived by vehicle in order that they can further explore the island at their leisure. Thus the parking spaces proposed would appear to be inadequate. Further the parking on the front is usually packed with the cars of locals, workers, visitors from elsewhere on the island visiting Brodick, and with the cars of locals who, unable to get their car booked on the boat, have left their car and gone as foot passengers. There will not be the space available for the overspill of residents’ cars, staff cars and cars used by visitors to the restaurant, assuming it is open to the public.
Whilst sure the company has done their market research and looked into the financial viability of this hotel, if it fails to give cognisance to the difficulty of recruiting, and retaining, staff then the Arran community and Brodick in particular, will be left with, potentially, a much larger eyesore in the future; not what one wants visitors to the have as their first impression of the island.
I am all in favour of the site being regenerated but do not think just anything should be accepted as an alternative to the current eyesore.
Visitors come to Arran, and islands in general, because their architecture, villages and townships are different from their experiences on the mainland. Why try to build something ‘mainland’ when ‘island’ is what is being sought out by visitors?
Perhaps a smaller building more in keeping with the nature and ambiance of Brodick seafront is more acceptable.
Friday May 11
I support this application to demolish the current eyesore and replace it with a the proposed building. Not only will this return this street to looking less run down but it will provide much needed accommodation on the island to complement the increase ferry traffic. It will also bring more direct employment and investment to the island which will trickle down to many other businesses on the island helping to sustain the island economy.