Highland Spring loses bid to turn Perhtshire hotel into new HQ

The Blackford Hotel was built around 1896 and contains "French and Scottish baronial details". Picture: Google Street View
The Blackford Hotel was built around 1896 and contains "French and Scottish baronial details". Picture: Google Street View
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Bottled water producer Highland Spring has lost a battle over plans to build a new multi-million pound headquarters.

The company had been planning to demolish an 18th century hotel and convert surrounding buildings for offices and facilities.

Picture: Flickr/D@LY3D

Picture: Flickr/D@LY3D

But despite completing blueprints for the project in Blackford, Perthshire, the firm became embroiled in a row after Historic Environment Scotland (HES) awarded protected C-list status to the Blackford Hotel site.

The Blackford Hotel was built around 1896 and contains “French and Scottish baronial details” in its design. It was listed in May but Highland Spring and their architects asked the government to reverse it.

Owners of listed buildings must apply to local authorities for planning permission to make changes to structures.

Highland Spring had turned to the Scottish Government in a bid to have the listing rejected and allow them to pursue development plans.

It is our view that the Blackford Hotel is of special architectural or historic interest and is of definite historic character individually

HES

A report submitted on behalf of the company said: “They had initially hoped to use the building for office accommodation but soon found that the state of the buildings, the costs of maintenance, running costs and the spaces available meant that this was impractical. In short, there is no other practical use for the old hotel building.

“It was only after making this assessment that Highland Spring engaged architects to look at options to convert the maltings building to form new headquarters.

“These proposals will ensure the long term viable and sustainable use for the ‘B’ Listed maltings buildings but these proposals rely on the proposal to demolish the Blackford Hotel and will not be viable if the hotel is to be retained.

“Furthermore, the proposals will ensure that this very significant local employer will retain headquarters in Blackford thereby keeping high quality jobs associated with the business within the locality.”

They added: “In summary, we would like to appeal the decision to list the Blackford Hotel on the grounds that the building does not conform to the criteria of age and rarity, architectural or historic Interest or close historic association.”

HES wrote to the government defending their case.

They said: “It is our view that the Blackford Hotel is of special architectural or historic interest and is of definite historic character individually.

“What sets the Blackford Hotel apart is the high degree of architectural embellishment, particularly at the first floor and roofline of the principal elevation and this amount of architectural detailing is relatively unusual for a hotel in a small settlement.

“In the context of Blackford it is one of the village’s most architecturally distinctive buildings.”

Government reporter Trevor Croft agreed with HES and dismissed the appeal.

He said: “I have also found that the building accords with the broad principles for listing in terms of its architectural interest.

“It illustrates the development of a certain type of hotel in rural settlements.”

It is a criminal offence to demolish, alter or extend a listed building in any way which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest unless listed building consent has been granted.

There are around 47,000 listed buildings in Scotland.