Plans for a major development in central Aviemore have cast a spotlight on a “desperate” housing shortage now affecting vast swathes of the north of Scotland.
An 83-bedroom hotel has been approved by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, along with six shops and 22 self-catering apartments.
It is the holiday lets element that has sparked fury in a busy tourist area which urgently needs more affordable homes for locals and others working in the area.
Scottish Government ministers will have the final say on the planning application from Upland Developments because of concerns raised by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency about possible flooding from a nearby burn.
Aviemore and Vicinity Community Council chairman Peter Long said: “It’s absolutely desperate. We hear all the time of people coming to live and to work in this area who are simply unable to find accommodation.
“Local businesses tell us they are desperate to attract staff but people cannot find anywhere to live, not just in Aviemore but in the surrounding area. I think it’s the single biggest challenge that we face as a community.”
Environmentalists have strongly opposed the development, saying it was considered without the requirement of an ecological survey.
Tess Jones of the Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group said: “It appears to us completely clear that it goes entirely against the new national planning policies that are now in place, which place climate change and the nature emergency absolutely front and centre of how every development should be considered.”
The park authority said objectors’ views had been taken into account.
The developers, Upland Developments and Scotia Homes, which has a presence on the edge of the site, have been contacted for a comment.
Almost 6,500 people are currently on Highland Council’s housing waiting list.
The local authority says that demonstrates the “substantial demand and pressure on the supply of affordable social homes.”
It has delivered 1,200 affordable homes in the past two years and has promised 3,300 in total across the overall region by 2028.