The company behind the multimillion-pound Taymouth Castle redevelopment has dismissed claims it is planning a ‘gated community’.
Discovery Land Company (DLC) has also insisted it will abide by Scottish land reform legislation and respect the public’s right to responsible access to the estate near Kenmore.
The fresh pledges have come in a letter to John Swinney MSP and Pete Wishart MP from Taymouth Castle general manager David O’Donoghue.
He writes: “Our intent is to follow the spirit of the law. In short, Taymouth Estate will not be a gated community and the public will continue to have access to the beach and car park.”
The Perthshire SNP politicians wrote to DLC following a public meeting on the proposals held in Aberfeldy Town Hall last month.
DLC’s chief project officer at Taymouth Castle Tom Collopy made the same assurances in an interview with The Courier two weeks ago.
It is calling for a halt to further development on the project, calling DLC “a group of American billionaires who specialise in exclusive gated ‘worlds’ for the super rich”.
‘Gated community’ claims among series of Taymouth Castle questions
Mr O’Donoghue also addressed questions about the company’s plans for the properties which it owns in Kenmore.
As The Courier previously reported, DLC has said it plans to reopen the village shop after refurbishment early next year. The Kenmore Hotel is likely to reopen to the public in 2025.
Two other Kenmore commercial properties, Taymouth Trading and the Paper Boat, are also due to reopen to the community, but plans for these are in their infancy.
The letter also confirms DLC intends to invest in affordable housing in the community.
And it says the company will come up with an overview of the project that is easier for the public to follow.
In the letter, Mr O’Donoghue says: “We apologise to yourselves and the local community for any lack of information about the Taymouth Estate and related projects and the concern and frustration this may have caused.
“We share your love of the natural splendor (sic) of this region and appreciate your concern given the scale of the investment and change occurring. However, over time we hope you will agree that the quality of life will be better here than before and hope we will earn the privilege to be considered by you as good neighbours.”
Taymouth Castle gated community notion ‘can be laid to rest’
Mr Swinney welcomed the pledges on access and communication.
But he added: “It is vital that this is the first step in rebuilding trust with many in the local community who, in the absence of effective communication, have grown suspicious of the development plans.
“It is also important to recognise that the words contained within DLC’s reply must now be translated into action.”
Mr Wishart said the response was “a good first step” but further conversations and reassurances were needed.
He said: “One issue that I think we can lay to rest is any notion of the grounds becoming a gated community, and I hope that people’s concerns around access have been satisfied.
“We must also take at face value their commitment to the reopening of local amenities and their continued availability to the public.”
Local support for Discovery Land Company plans
More than 140,000 people have now signed the online petition launched by Protect Loch Tay.
However, many locals, including Kenmore and District Community Council, support the redevelopment of Taymouth Castle and estate.
Some say negative publicity as a result of the petition is harming existing businesses in the area.
The castle has fallen into serious disrepair under a series of previous owners.
Restoration of the landmark and its golf course is under way. DLC also has plans for 145 luxury homes on the estate, as well as additional facilities.
The company says the resort could support around 200 full-time jobs.
Perth and Kinross Council says it is “broadly supportive” of the project.