Developer seeks permission for controversial alterations to' iconic' Fife hotel

Controversial plans to turn an iconic Fife hotel into flats are back on the table.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 4:47 pm

The Albert Hotel in North Queensferry, which sits in the shadow of the Forth Rail Bridge, could be turned into self contained apartments.

The plan by Festival Inns, owned by businessman Kenny Waugh, ran into significant local opposition with over 100 objections lodged to the proposal earlier this year.

Opposition also came from North Queensferry Community Council and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland.

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The Albert Hotel, North Queensferry (Pic: Michael Gillen)

Now an application for listed building consent for external alterations to the Category C historic building has been made to Fife Council.

The hotel has been closed since 2015, and community campaigners want to rescue it and re-open it.

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The Albert Hotel, North Queensferry (Pic: Michael Gillen)

A statement lodged as part of the application revealed Fife Council investigated enforcement action against Mr Waugh “at the request of the local community” - but it did not result in a notice being issued.

The application was withdrawn in May after a request for further information.

Mr Waugh’s application noted: “A local campaign has resulted in a disproportionately high level of objection from the community predominantly in relation to the principle of development.

“Much of this is predicated on the tourism and economic development value of the hotel.

“The level of objection is surprising given the nature of residential development being proposed to replace the existing commercial leisure use and the limited opportunities for alternative, feasible or viable development to re-use the building.”

An agent for the applicant said the alterations proposed were “modest” and would have “negligible impact on the character or appearance of the building”

The hotel has an existing authorised Class 7 use which, the statement said, Mr Waugh could choose to re-use for letting purposes.

It added, the only change proposed is on the ground floor which houses the public bar area as the upper floors were previously used for accommodation.

The applicant said the pub was no longer in use, and the building is deemed to be partially dangerous in a state of disrepair.

And it took aim at local objectors, noting: “ Given that the surrounding area is predominantly residential in nature, amenity, disturbance and noise is likely to be improved by a possible change of use to mainstream residential use as opposed to licensed commercial hours.

“The applicant is therefore surprised at the objections from local villagers who would normally be inclined to resist alternatives to residential use.”

In February, North Queensferry Heritage Trust, unveiled a bid to buy the former hotel with the help of local investors.

It also said it would consider an application to Scottish Government Ministers to exercise its Community Right to Purchase under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act.

The town’s community council has previously said the proposed conversion into flats was “wholly unsuitable and inappropriate" – and challenged Festival Inns’ assertion that it was unviable as a business.

The current application will be considered in due course.

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