Family 'devastated ' as Sheikh gets backing to build luxury lodge next door

A father and daughter from the west Highlands have been left “devastated” after one of the world’s richest men was given permission in principle to build a luxury retreat next to their home.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai has been told the Scottish Government planning reporter is “minded” to approve plans for a six-bedroom lodge at Inverinate, Kyle of Lochalsh, Wester Ross.

The proposals on the Sheik’s 62-000 acre Killilan and Inverinate Estate were earlier rejected by Highland Council and referred on appeal to the reporter.

Roddy MacLeod and his daughter and Tina MacLeod from Inverinate, whose family home is around 20 metres away from the lodge site, are “devastated” by the planning decision, which is subject to a legal agreement.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai wants to build a new six-bedroom lodge at Inverinate, Wester Ross, with his neighbours left 'devastated' after the Scottish Government planning reporter said he was minded to approve the plan. PIC: Creative Commons/ S Ross.

Ms MacLeod, who co-owns the Stròm contemporary lifestyle store in Kyle of Lochalsh, said: “We are devastated.

“It feels that if you are rich and powerful in Scotland, you can do what you want. It is very worrying for the future and for the future of the Highlands.

"The Sheik has thousands of acres across his estate and he chooses to build right next door to us. It is very rural here, we live up a quiet road and this house will be extremely close to our home, around 20 metres away.

“My dad is fairly devastated and we have the new nightmare of the building works to come. Our peaceful way of life is now over.

“We have never had any dealings with the Sheik, we just live next to his estate grounds. He is never here, apparently as there is not enough room for him, his family and the staff. This house is around half a mile from the old lodge. We don’t know why it has to be there.”

The Sheikh, the ruler of Dubai who counts the Queen among his friends, bought the estate more than 20 years ago for around £2million, it is understood.

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A total of 31 individual objections were received to the lodge plan, with concerns raised about the property being built as a holiday home and the use of the pier next to the plot.

The plot overlooks Loch Duich and was sold to Smech, the Sheik’s property army, by the Church of Scotland.

The land came with planning permission for a single house and the Sheik’s revised plan for the six-bedroom lodge were later rejected by councillors given the adverse impact of the property on the character of the existing area and the MacLeod’s property.

However, the reporter said: “I am satisfied that, with a height of one and half storeys, the overall design would reduce the scale and massing of the proposed house ensuring that it would be of an appropriate character and appearance for its location.”

The lodge is the fourth house developed on the Sheik’s land at Inverinate with the planning reporter making it a requirement of planning approval that he now makes a contribution to affordable housing in the Highlands

The planning reporter, in his Notice of Intention to grant planning permission, said: “The appellant confirms its agreement to the requirement for this contribution and to the upfront payment option of £30,000.”

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