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‘Ghost town’ claims harming Kenmore as Taymouth Castle saga turns unprecedented spotlight on village

Kenmore operators say the village is very much open for business as controversy over the Taymouth Castle redevelopment continues.

Kenmore Hotel exterior
The Kenmore Hotel may be closed, but the village is still open for business. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

Traders in Kenmore are sending out a message that Loch Tay is very much open for business, amid global opposition to a ‘billionaires’ playground’ on their doorstep.

The Kenmore Hotel and village store are both currently closed, along with a former cafe and other buildings.

But other venues in Kenmore are still open, as are a host of attractions and accommodation providers nearby and along the loch side.

Locals say the area is still extending a warm welcome to visitors, despite controversy over a multimillion-pound luxury homes plan for the neighbouring Taymouth Castle estate.

Taymouth Castle exterior
Taymouth Castle near Kenmore. Image: Kenny Smith/ DC Thomson.

Discovery Land Company, the American firm behind the ongoing redevelopment of the castle, has bought the closed properties and intends to reopen them to the public following renovations.

However, opponents of the Taymouth Castle scheme have raised concerns about the company’s motives.

More than 82,000 people have now signed an online petition, launched by the Protect Loch Tay protest group, which is calling for a halt to any further development.

And this has turned an unprecedented – and in some ways unwelcome – spotlight on the village.

‘Ghost town’ claims harming Kenmore

Kenmore and District Community Council member Shirley Shearer raised the issue at a recent public meeting on the Taymouth Castle development held in Aberfeldy Town Hall.

packed hall at Taymouth Castle meeting.
Shirley Shearer was at the public meeting in Aberfeldy. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson.

She told the gathering that recent TV coverage and reports in the national media may have given the impression that Kenmore is a “ghost town” when nothing could be further from the truth.

Kenmore has been under intense scrutiny since the launch of the Protect Loch Tay petition.

It is being signed by objectors around the world.

But Shirley, who also runs the Karelia House craft shop at nearby Keltneyburn, told the meeting that images of reporters standing outside shuttered properties in Kenmore were misleading for viewers.

And she said some accommodation providers had had callers asking if they should cancel holiday bookings since everything in the village is now closed.

Kenmore village store exterior.
The Kenmore village store is due to re-open early next year. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

Speaking to The Courier, she said: “It’s important that we send a┬ámessage that Kenmore is still open for business.

“There are still lots of places to stay, and eat and drink. And it would be a shame if people were put off coming because of what they’ve seen, or read.

“As a small business community, lots of people are really positive about everything that’s happening here.”

‘Short-term pain for long-term gain’

John Argo runs the Courtyard Brasserie, across the river behind the main square in Kenmore.

It’s open seven days a week. And while visitor numbers are down slightly from the “staycation boom” of the pandemic years, it’s been a busy summer.

View of Kenmore, sitting on edge of Loch Tay, with bridge crossing River Tay at its east end.
The Courtyard Brasserie and many of the homes in Kenmore are across the bridge from the village square.

He is more anxious about when the schools go back and traders everywhere have to work a little harder to get by.

“My concern is exactly what Shirley said at the meeting,” he said.

“The worry is that there will be people who are deciding not to come to Kenmore now because they assume that everything is closed.

“That’s the story that’s being told, but it’s not the case.”

Darren Scott, director of the Taymouth Marina resort, agreed much of the comment had been inaccurate and unhelpful.

View of Loch Tay from the Taymouth Marina at Kenmore.
The Taymouth Marina boasts an enviable location on the shores of Loch Tay.

He said it had been a record-breaking year for short breaks and the resort was glad to welcome day trippers to its restaurant and spa.

“Yes, there are probably fewer people on the beach at Kenmore than there have been in past years, and fewer places open,” he said.

“But this is still a welcoming community and there are still plenty of places for people to eat and drink.

“This has been a step back for Kenmore, but it’s happening so we can all move forward.”

‘Short term pain for long-term gain’

Henry Murdoch of the Courtyard shop challenged one TV news company over its claims that Kenmore was being “strangled” by the Taymouth Castle estate development when it reported from the village in July.

Yesterday he said he had also heard reports of people asking if there is any point in visiting Kenmore because everything in the village is shut down.

“Those are the ones we’re hearing about,” he said.

“We have no idea how many people are not even doing that simply because of the information they’ve been hearing.”

Henry said Kenmore was going through “a bit of short-term pain for long-term gain”.

“There is still plenty going on here,” he added.

“Kenmore is bigger than the square. And we really do all need to work together to protect what we have.”