Banchory hotel allowed to continue serving alcohol outdoors
The popular hotel applied to Aberdeenshire Council in a bid to amend its existing premises licence.
It went before the Aberdeenshire Licensing Board recently for members to specifically address the use of its outdoor dining pods and sheltered area.
The space, better known as the Sitooterie, includes a covered patio area and five colourful dining sheds.
It was initially created to allow Banchory Lodge Hotel to continue welcoming guests throughout the pandemic.
Earlier this year, the four-star hotel was given permission to operate the trendy sheds until April 2033.
Guests can sit “inside oot” and enjoy breakfast, teas, coffees, snacks and other meals inside the pods.
Solicitor Janet Hood told councillors that the sheds have been running under occasional licenses for nearly two years with no objections or complaints.
Currently, the venue is permitted to serve alcohol outside until 11pm, however they agreed to reduce this to 10.30pm.
Its owners believed the change was a “reasonable adjustment” and believed it would keep surrounding neighbours “happy and content”.
They also amended their licence to start off-sales an hour earlier at 10am.
Meanwhile, the hotel sought permission to play low-key background music to add a “touch of atmosphere” to the facility.
Plans were also unveiled to host dance classes, magicians and even comedians, while film events could be held at the venue.
However, it was stressed the hotel “will not become a cinema”.
Visitors will soon be allowed to enjoy a host of indoor and outdoor sports such as yoga and bowls too.
Ms Hood told the board that the “quiet” activities would be held on the hotel lawn during the day and said they would not cause any disturbance.
But five objections to the proposed changes had been lodged by neighbouring residents.
One local claimed the outdoor area generated unwanted smells and noise.
However Ms Hood refuted this, saying it was “unthinkable” as no complaints had been made to the hotel.
She argued: “If there was a smell and noise, that would deter people coming to the four-star hotel.”
Dr John Shanks spoke at the meeting to voice his opposition to the proposal.
He said the hotel had gone from being a “quiet country retreat to a busy business”.
And he claimed the extended offering at the hotel had brought a “significant” increase in general noise nuisance.
While a second objector, Michael Wilson, told the board he could clearly hear music and rowdy guests from his property.
He also raised concerns about serving drinks so close to the River Dee.
“Selling alcohol next to a fast-flowing river, that irresponsible behaviour is an accident waiting to happen,” he stated.
But Ms Hood argued that the “modest” application would help to “enhance Banchory, bring people in, increase employment and encourage the business of this premises”.
Police Scotland didn’t object to the changes, but asked that the music stop and outdoor areas close at 11pm.
The council’s licensing standards officer Lisa Godini also welcomed the proposal, but noted that the 10.30pm terminal time had been agreed by the hotel owners.
Following debate, councillor Trevor Mason gave his support for the licence as he said he couldn’t see anything to stop the board from granting it.
His view was backed by fellow councillor Richard Menard who added: “I am fully assured we are making the right decision if we grant this.”
The amended licence was unanimously granted by the board.