A developer is preparing a counter court claim against Angus Council after being served with a £9,000 direct action bill in the saga surrounding the development of a historic Kirriemuir hotel.
Six months after the local authority lost patience with developer John Cape and stepped in to tidy up the former Hooks Hotel in the town centre, the Fife businessman has said his lawyers are being instructed to sue for damages after crucial grant funding was pulled from the project.
The builder, who has a family connection to the Angus town, bought the eyesore hotel in 2015 with million pound plans to put a shop and flat into the Hooks building, in addition to converting two cottages and developing other flats to the rear.
The project has been mired in controversy since, with repeated wrangling between the 55-year-old and officials from the Kirriemuir Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS), under which he hoped to land vital grant support.
CARS steering group members and local councillors expressed concern about the state of the C-listed building and further damage being caused by water ingress to the sandstone property.
Local councillors were also worried about the potential risk to passers-by from loose roof-covering material.
The unfinished development found its way on to Angus development standards committee’s list of enforcement cases, and after Mr Cape failed to carry out required works within a set timescale the authority took direct action before sending him the four-figure bill for the works.
He has now lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government’s planning appeals unit, and said his lawyer had been instructed to pursue a counter claim.
“They’ve cosmetically done the building up to it looks nice and as few questions as possible are asked about it, because they know the way this has been handled is the biggest load of nonsense,” he said.
“We’re currently preparing an action for damages because the grants were withdrawn. This should have been finished 15 months ago. If it gets sorted out I will get on with it,” said the developer.
An Angus Council spokesman said: “We are aware that an appeal has been lodged with the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division but it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”