Developers have submitted fresh plans to turn an iconic hotel in Fife into flats after proposals earlier this year were withdrawn.
The 200-year-old Albert Hotel in North Queensferry has been closed since 2017, and owner Festival Inns is seeking permission to turn it into four self-contained flats.
A previous application by Edinburgh-based businessman Kenny Waugh attracted significant community opposition and was eventually withdrawn in May this year.
Councillors are being asked to consider the new application, which would create a two-bedroom flat and three flats with three bedrooms each.
Iconic Fife hotel predates Forth Bridge
The rear of the Category C-listed property, located on Main Street in the Fife town, enjoys spectacular views across the Forth Rail Bridge.
The property was built in 1824 and pre-dates the Forth Bridge, which was completed in 1890.
The building was originally called Mitchell’s Inn, named after the owner Robert Mitchell.
It was later renamed the Albert Hotel in honour of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s arrival in North Queensferry in 1842.
A supporting statement from planning consultants acting on behalf of Mr Waugh and Festival Inns says the new proposals have been submitted after consultation with Fife Council.
It also addresses a “disproportionately high” level of community opposition to the previous application, saying this was the result of a local campaign.
Level of community objection ‘surprising’
North Queensferry Community Council, as well as the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, both led objections to the previous proposals before they were withdrawn.
“The level of objection is surprising given the nature of residential development being proposed to replace the existing commercial leisure use and the limited opportunities for alternative, feasible or viable development to re-use the building,” the fresh application says.
It also explains that Festival Inns has considered the prospects of continuing to operate the building as a hotel.
Continued operation as a hotel ‘unviable’, owner insists
“In terms of viability, further evidence is now provided through historical trading accounts and records of the previous proprietors.
“It is proven beyond reproach that marketing conditions and operating losses demonstrate that the business is no longer viable,” the statement says.
It adds: “Given the level of refurbishment and financial investment required to allow it to compete with other local facilities, it has been resolved that a residential use would be the better option for restoration of the building.”
Building ‘cannot be considered to be a valuable community asset’
Locals have suggested they could acquire the building to operate as a community asset, potentially reopening it as a pub.
But the supporting statement says that “having due regard to the semi-derelict condition of the hotel” as well as its facilities and location it “cannot be considered to be a valuable community asset”.
A decision on the application is expected by January next year, with locals asked to submit comments online.