Started by Newshound, April 21, 2004, 14:43:47

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An Extra 400 jobs are expected to be created at the new Aviemore Highland Resort on top of the 279 already planned, it was revealed yesterday.

The consortium behind the resort also announced that £80million will be spent over the coming years - £45million more than originally estimated.

However, it has also emerged that some of the latest planning applications for the resort have been called in by the Cairngorm National Park Authority.

That could jeopardise the resort's future, though its owners hope to resolve the matter quickly to avoid what they say would be a "calamitous" delay.

Macdonald Hotels, which owns a third of the resort with the Tulloch Group and the Bank of Scotland, is pumping £15million into a new 18-hole golf course at Dalfaber.

The consortium will spend £35million creating conference and exhibition facilities and a further £30million will be spent on housing in the village.

The move comes two months after Macdonald Hotels sold the 109-room Waterside Inn, near Peterhead, and the 48-room Thainstone House at Inverurie for an undisclosed sum to London and Edinburgh Inns.

News of the extra jobs and investment came ahead of a visit to Aviemore today by Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace to check out progress on the development - expected to be the largest of its kind in the north.

Highland councillors will also visit the village.

The consortium said it was on target to open most of the facilities this summer.

The conference centre is scheduled to open in autumn.

The steel structure has been erected and foundations laid for a swimming pool complex and leisure club. Cladding and fitting out will begin shortly.

Work is also under way on a new exhibition and conference venue capable of hosting 1,000 delegates. The first few of some 60 upmarket self-catering properties have been completed.

In the next phase for 2005 there will be a visitor and crafts shopping area, a supermarket and up to 140 houses.

A spokeswoman for Macdonald Hotels said: "Work is also far advanced on the new, championship-quality, 18-hole golf course at Dalfaber - where we have just received planning permission for the creation of a major, five-star plus hotel, plus improved leisure facilities at our timeshare resort."

She warned that the delay caused by the park authority calling in planning applications for staff accommodation and the retail pavilion connecting to Aviemore Highland Conference Centre would be "calamitous" as the resort's opening had been heavily promoted.

"The seriousness of the situation cannot be overstated," she said.

"Equally important to our overall plan is the separate element of supermarket retail and, of course, the concept of restoring covered ice and karting to the resort. These applications have also been called in by the park authority.

"Directors of Aviemore Highland Resort have expressed their astonishment that, having begun the process of planning the resort some seven years ago - and after years of hugely detailed discussions with Highland Council, Moray Badenoch and Strathspey Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and, indeed, the local community - this latest intervention has the potential to delay the project beyond the eleventh hour."

However, the spokeswoman said the consortium was "confident" that any planning issues will be resolved swiftly.

Plans for a £30million redevelopment of the resort were announced in December, 2002. It was then estimated that 279 jobs would be created.

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