Concern about latest plan for redevelopment of Kings House Hotel

Trust submits objection that proposed development is out of keeping with surrounding special landscape

Grahame nicollcrowberrytower glencoe kingshouseview detail

A revised planning application for the historic Kings House Hotel has been criticised by the John Muir Trust as out of keeping with the National Scenic Area and wild land.

In 2015, plans began to take shape for significant redevelopment of one of Scotland’s oldest inns, the historic Kings House Hotel in Glencoe. The John Muir Trust didn’t object to an original application to replace much of the current structure with a 30 bedroom hotel, which it believed to be sympathetic to the landscape within which the Kings House sits.

Subsequently a planning application for permission to demolish a significant part of the existing buildings - retaining only the original building - and redevelop the site was submitted to Highland Council. The plans were approved by Highland Council in August last year.

Earlier this month the Trust became aware of a revised planning application, representing a significant departure from the approved application.  The new plans would comprise a three-storey, 60-bed hotel, against the original proposal for 30 rooms.

The hotel sits in a prominent site within one of Scotland’s 40 National Scenic Area (NSA) and between two of Scotland’s official “Wild Land Areas” (WLAs) – the Loch Etive Mountains and the Rannoch-Nevis-Mamores-Alder WLAs.

John Low, Policy Officer for the Trust and in whose name the Trust’s objection was submitted says, “We believe these new plans do not respect, enhance or make responsible use of our natural and cultural assets. This is a barracks style, block design which is not in keeping with the area. The development threatens to impact adversely on wild land, which has come under increasing pressure in recent years and which is recognised by the Scottish Government as an asset of national and international significance.”

Visualisation from developer

Picture courtesy of Highland Council Planning portal.

The Trust’s analysis has concluded that the three storey extension will  dominate and overwhelm the original historic building and is of a scale and size that its mass will be very obvious from near and far viewpoints including nearby mountains such as the iconic Buachaille Etive Mor, described by WalkHighlands as "one of the best known and loved of all the Munro peaks."  As such, it is inappropriate for a National Scenic Area and will impact adversely on the wildness qualities of the adjacent Wild Land Areas. We suggest in our response that such a proposal is out of step with the Scottish Government’s aspiration to “protect and enhance our natural capital, our brand and reputation as a country of outstanding natural beauty” (Scotland’s Economic Strategy, March 2015, p45).

Mountaineering Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland have also submitted objections.

Update 30 November:- We understand that demolition of the more recent extensions to the Kings House Hotel recently commenced, in accordance with the previously-approved 2016 planning application.  The 2017 planning application for redevelopment is still under consideration. A minor amendment has more recently been made to lower the roofline, which we are currently evaluating.

You can read our full objection and subsequent letter to Highland Council here

Main image credit: Grahame Nicoll