£1.3bn plan for Rannoch resort for the super-rich set to be thrown out

CONTROVERSIAL plans to turn a spectacular stretch of Highland Perthshire into a private playground for the super-rich are set to be thrown on the scrapheap.

Senior planners at Perth and Kinross Council are recommending that the 1.3 billion project, planned for the shores of Loch Rannoch, should be rejected at a special meeting of the full council next week.

They claim in a report to the council that the development by Malcolm James, the owner of the Dall estate, would contravene both local and national planning policies and have a detrimental impact on "one of the most spectacular Highland landscapes within the Perth and Kinross Council area".

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The report also claims that the viability of the ambitious scheme to create Scotland's most exclusive holiday resort remains "questionable" in the current economic climate.

Mr James, the reclusive owner of the Dall estate, first revealed his plan to transform his sprawling property into the exclusive playground of the world's mega-rich in August 2009, sparking a storm of local and national protest.

He announced that the minimum liquid net worth of clients using the estate would be set at 100 million, with membership fees of 2m and annual dues of 500,000.

Nick Brian, the council's development quality manager, states in a report to next Wednesday's meeting that the application should be rejected.

He states: "The difficulty in this case is the sheer magnitude of the development proposed and the overwhelming impact the development of the described elements would have on such a dramatically undeveloped and tranquil landscape.

"Many of the elements specified in the (outline] application description are unlikely to ever be acceptable, even if full details were to be provided, given the aims and policies of national and local policy documents."

The report states that the development would also have a "significant" adverse impact on internationally and nationally important natural heritage sites, particularly the Black Wood of Rannoch .

Mr Brian also states: "Currently, it is anticipated by the applicant that the resort would be operated by a management company who would be a major equity stakeholder sharing a substantial element of the development costs.

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"At this time there is no indication that any management company is interested in becoming a stakeholder in this scheme. The viability of the development therefore remains questionable, especially in the current economic climate."

Bob Benson, a leading opponent of the scheme from the Dall Community Association, welcomed the recommendation to councillors. He said: "This a damning report. And we are hopeful that councillors will back the recommendation."

Mr James could not be contacted for comment.