Pre­mier Inn plan raises fears with lo­cal busi­nesses

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - LOCAL NEWS -

Bat­tle­lines are be­ing drawn over plans to build a Pre­mier Inn on a prom­i­nent site in Thurso.

The pop­u­lar­ity of the North Coast 500 has per­suaded Whit­bread to ear­mark the town as the site for the most northerly out­let of its 785 bud­get ho­tels in the UK.

The ven­ture on the long-time derelict for­mer live­stock mart site off Orm­lie Road is ex­pected to cre­ate 30 jobs.

But the 81-bed­room scheme is be­ing op­posed by the lo­cal tourist trade, with some hote­liers claim­ing it would badly af­fect their busi­ness.

Caith­ness Cham­ber of Com­merce chief ex­ec­u­tive Trudy Morris said: “While we are gen­er­ally minded to wel­come new de­vel­op­ments in Thurso, we feel that this scheme would have sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive im­pacts on ex­ist­ing busi­nesses, and

“The 81-bed­room scheme is be­ing op­posed by the lo­cal­tourist­trade”

on Thurso town cen­tre gen­eral.”

The cham­ber fears the Pre­mier Inn will dis­place trade from es­tab­lished ac­com­mo­da­tion providers and other lo­cal busi­nesses as, be­ing a large, na­tional chain, it would be able to un­der­cut prices, with all prof­its go­ing out­side the area. in

Ms Morris said the plan runs counter to High­land Coun­cil’s guide­lines to help re­gen­er­ate town cen­tres.

She added that it was likely to draw skilled staff away from its ri­vals, say­ing: “These busi­nesses have worked hard to gain, train and re­tain their staff, and many have strong com­mit­ments to em­ploy­ing young peo­ple and of­fer­ing full-time, year-round ca­reers.”

Stan Egan, who runs the town’s Sta­tion Ho­tel, said: “I don’t see this de­vel­op­ment be­ing in any way good for us or the town in gen­eral.

“They will mop up all the cor­po­rate busi­ness which will af­fect us and the other ac­com­mo­da­tion providers who do a lot of busi­ness in the win­ter months with na­tional con­trac­tors like Bal­four Siemens.

“That is core busi­ness for us in the win­ter months and if we lose that, we would have to think about clos­ing over the win­ter, which would mean us hav­ing to put 12 peo­ple out of work.”

Mr Egan added: “I’d love to see this site re­de­vel­oped as it has been derelict for so long but I’m not con­vinced this would be the best use of it.”

Thurso Com­mu­nity Coun­cil chair­man Mike Potts said the plan for the Pre­mier Inn was the only one tabled which has “a bit of life to it” adding that plan­ners would have to care­fully con­sider ve­hic­u­lar ac­cess from the site on to Orm­lie Road. Beattie and

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