MULTI-million pound plans to revamp an Inverness hotel have been given the go-ahead, despite claims the "space-age" architecture would be a blot on the traditional city landscape.
Proposals to extend the existing Kingsmills Hotel in Damfield Road won the broad support of councillors but its plans to create a new contemporary bedroom block and club house proved more controversial.
At a meeting of the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey planning committee yesterday Councillor David Henderson (Inverness Ness-side) said he could not support the application.
"This is introducing something very large and very challenging in design to the area and I think we have to listen carefully to what the Inverness Civic Trust is saying and the reservations of the community council."
He said planning officer Nicola Drummond had bravely attempted to justify the space-age design as an appropriate development for a green and traditional corner of Inverness but he remained unconvinced by the argument.
He proposed the plans be refused claiming they were out of character with the rest of the area, but fellow colleagues voted 11 to five in support of the application.
The committee was shown a selection of artist's impressions which pictured the club house from a number of different angles.
Inverness Provost Jimmy Gray said, while from certain perspectives the design looked reasonable, from others it was a real eyesore.
"This is an important area and we should try to accommodate the concerns of the community council," he said.
Meanwhile, supporting the plans Councillor John Holden (Inverness South) said the revamped hotel would be a real asset to Inverness, which relied on tourism.
"At a time when there is a downturn in the economy, this will save some valuable jobs," he added.