Plans for a Thai-themed train carriage restaurant have hit the buffers after councillors refused permission to lease the site.
In April Perth and Kinross Council’s planning and development management committee granted change of use planning permission for the restaurant to be developed in a Pitlochry council-owned car park.
The decision was subject to a lease being agreed by PKC’s property sub-committee, which met yesterday.
Train buff Fergus McCallum planned to open The Wee Choo with wife Isara and daughter Mia in two Great Western Railway carriages in a section of the Rie-Achan Road car park overlooking the Highland Main Line.
The town centre car park would lose 12 spaces as a result of the development.
Following deputations from three objectors and the applicant, the committee voted by five votes to two to refuse marketing the site for lease for business use.
Objector Fiona Hamilton told the committee there was already insufficient parking in Pitlochry.
In 2018 Perth and Kinross Council allocated £150,000 to increasing parking in the popular tourist town.
But a parking survey was delayed by the pandemic, and extra parking has never been provided.
Miss Hamilton said: “It’s a very compact town and there’s not a lot of spare ground for additional parking.”
Convener, Conservative councillor Murray Lyle, moved to refuse leasing the site.
Labour councillor Alasdair Bailey put forward an amendment to defer a decision to better consider both the economic impact and impact on parking.
Councillors voted for refusal by five votes to two.
After the meeting Mr McCallum told the Local Democracy Reporting System (LDRS): “It was not the decision I expected.”
He is now unsure what the future holds for The Wee Choo.
Mr Lyle told the LDRS: “I did not think it was appropriate given we seem to be short of parking spaces that we then advocate reducing the number of spaces.”
Mr Bailey accused councillors of amnesia.
He told the LDRS: “Only a couple of years ago, councillors unanimously agreed a Climate Emergency motion.
“Today we saw an outbreak of collective amnesia amongst my colleagues to the point that they declined to support a restaurant that would be sustainably constructed using former railway carriages and attract visitors who generally prefer to travel by train.
“Yes, it would have cost a small number of parking places but we have to take steps to make our communities less reliant on the car and this proposal moved us in that direction.”
Alison Stephenson, who lives 20-30 metres from the site, was prevented from making a deputation at the April 7 planning meeting.
Alison presented her case at yesterday’s meeting and afterwards told the LDRS she was “absolutely elated”. She said: “I’m not against having a Thai restaurant but not in a council car park.”