Masterplan unveiled to transform Cairngorm Mountain resort

HIE has promised a balance between greater access to wild areas without harming the environment.

Masterplan unveiled to transform Cairngorm Mountain resort iStock

Designers have mapped out a 25-year vision for Cairngorm Mountain resort following a public consultation.

Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which owns the 3500-acre site, has promised a balance between greater access to wild areas without harming the environment.

The troubled funicular railway will be reinstated, snow-making equipment will be upgraded, and a new chairlift is proposed.

HIE prepared the masterplan following “widespread consultation” that included local community and business groups, sporting and nature conservation organisations and public bodies with a keen interest.

More than 2000 people took up a public invitation to complete detailed online questionnaires.

The agency says the outcome is “an overarching vision for the estate as a world-class mountain environment where nature thrives and people of all ages and abilities enjoy access to outdoor sport, recreation and education opportunities in every season of the year.”

The blueprint will help inform future development plans with a focus on a year-round “sustainable operating model, cohesive ecology and habitat restoration, promoting active travel and a mountain for all”.

Early priorities for the next two years include stabilising the resort’s operating company Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd and reviewing options for future ownership.

Other areas of focus include “ecology, sustainable transport, a plan for mountain biking and facilities development” and options for a new chairlift.

Dave MacLeod, HIE’s head of property and infrastructure, said: “This masterplan is a really important tool to guide the development of lots of individual plans that will come forward in future.

“It was clear some issues will always be polarising. Some people hold strong views both for and against changes to visitor management at the plateau and on the potential for mountain biking.

“Any future plans that might be brought forward on these subjects would need to be thought through very carefully and, of course, be subject to the regulatory planning process.”

The funicular railway is due to come back into service next winter.

Grant Moir, chief executive of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “We look forward to working with HIE and other partners to ensure the successful delivery of the masterplan over the next few years.”