New McLaren hotel plans on the table

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Sub-heading: Developers have listened to what opponents say

By Hugh Boag

The developers behind a new hotel on Brodick shorefront have submitted new plans for smaller development than originally proposed.

Revised plans, which have been lodged, reduces the size of the hotel, cuts the number of rooms and significantly increases the amount of parking which will be available. The appearance of the building has also been significantly enhanced.

The changes could go along way to satisfying the significant opposition to the proposals for the former eyesore McLaren Hotel site, with the developers also insisting they are offering a new class of accommodation and are not trying to compete with existing providers.

An amended planning application for the demolition of the existing hotel and the erection of a new hotel on the site has been submitted to planning chiefs at North Ayrshire Council by developers the abodeGroup.

The new plan is for an 88 guest room mid-market aparthotel, down from 97 rooms, reduces the scale and mass of the building by 10 per cent and significantly increases the number of parking spaces from 52 to 80. There would also be five staff rooms on the top floor.

The new hotel, which would also feature a restaurant and bar, has previously faced stiff resistance with a number of objections – most notably from VisitArran, the Arran Civic Trust and Arran Community Council as well as individual members of the public – who cited reasons objecting to the proposal owing to its size, scale, parking provision, appearance and the lack of provision for staff accommodation.

The Norfork-based abodeGroup have been in talks with planning officials for over three years, first made their plans public more than a year ago and finally submitted plans for a £9 million hotel in May.

In a new supporting planning statement the developers now say: ‘The balance has been achieved by designing a three-storey building, utilising the roof space for additional rooms, that maintains the visual gaps between it and its neighbours. The width of the ‘main building’, element occupies just over half of the site width at the front elevation.’

It goes on: ‘The proposed new building has been designed to be of a higher quality, in respect of detail, materials and scale.  The change in materials proposed, with glass to the front, stone facing to the main building, rendered walls to the rear, coupled with varying widths and heights creates visual depth. Dormer windows are placed within the eaves line of the main building roof, reflecting details as can be seen on other buildings in Brodick, for example the nearby Douglas Hotel.’

The question of staff accommodation has also been a sticking point with objectors however the developers now say: ‘The hotel is expected to employ a maximum of 25 FTE members of staff in total. It is envisaged that 80 per cent of the staff will be employed from the mainland, and therefore staff quarters in the hotel will be provided for these employees. The remaining 20 per cent will be recruited locally, and will therefore be able to walk, cycle or use public transport to travel to/from work. It is not expected that there will ever be more than 19 members of staff on duty at any one time.’

The fact that there were only 52 parking spaces for hotel guests, bar and restaurant visitors and staff was also a major concern. However in upping the parking provision the developers now say: ‘The council’s parking standards would require a maximum of 70.4 car parking spaces for guests, and 8.3 car parking spaces for staff (i.e. a total of 78.7 spaces). The proposed site layout shows a total of 80 car parking spaces, including four disabled spaces.’

A spokesman for the abodeGroup said: ‘We have had the opportunity to carefully consider the comments made during planning consultation and are pleased to present an updated, economically viable revised design which is around 10 per cent smaller in terms of scale and mass and incorporates accommodation for staff that may be sourced away from Arran.

‘The development proposes a new class of accommodation designed to not significantly compete with what is already available on the island, thereby bringing new visitors who will boost the economy, whilst removing the existing eyesore that residents and visitors approaching Brodick have endured for the past decade.’

 

A new artist’s impression of the proposed hotel on the old McLaren Hotel site shows a narrower frontage and additional parking allocation. No_B40mclaren01

The new view from the rear presently overgrown with trees. NO_B40mclaren02