Holiday lodges could attract £1.5m boost

A view from the North of the proposed development near Fettercairn
A view from the North of the proposed development near Fettercairn

Visitors to a proposed holiday lodge development near Fettercairn would pump nearly £1.5m a year into the local economy according to a specialist report.

Working on what they describe as “conservative projections”, Fife-based Tourism and Leisure Solutions say the project could bring significant economic benefits to Aberdeenshire.

A planning application for the holiday park was lodged a month ago and the consultant’s report, supporting the development, says that using figures supplied by VisitBritain, the project would create and support the equivalent of 26 full-time jobs each year.

The comprehensive study examines current market conditions and modern holiday trends. It looks at where the majority of visitors would come from and what would attract them to the area and it suggests the type and standard of accommodation which would be required to make the operation a success.

The report has identified a shortfall in four and five-star self-catering accommodation in Kincardineshire in particular. And across south Aberdeenshire the situation has been made worse by at least two holiday parks being wiped out by floods just over a year ago.

Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire show a higher rate of tourism growth than Scotland as a whole, suggesting potential for further market development. The area is also bucking the national trend by showing an increase in self-catering occupancy levels with highest average occupancy levels in the 4 and 5-star sectors.

Montrose-based Monarch Leisure and Park Homes Ltd are now preparing to invest around £6m to tap in to this market. If their planning application is successful, the three-year programme will create a holiday park with 57 luxury lodges, a nature trail, a restaurant and shops.

The site is currently occupied by an abandoned piggery and demolition and site clearing alone will cost more that £300,000. Roads, drainage, utilities and landscaping will bring the cost up to around £1.5m. The remaining development costs are in the luxury lodges themselves.

The consultant’s report identifies the kind of accommodation most in demand by modern holidaymakers. “High specification furniture and fittings are essential to cater for the 4 and 5-star market. Kitchens in particular must be fitted to a high standard and crockery, bedding etc. must be of good quality. Large screen TVs, DVD players and Ipod docks are increasingly expected, while optional features such as log burners are welcome.”

Mr Bill MacDonald, of Monarch Leisure, said,” This is exactly the type of lodge which we intend to provide. We will be sourcing all the lodges from Stately Albion, a European market leader. Their units are all beautifully finished and furnished to provide a genuinely luxurious holiday.

“We are promoting an environmentally-friendly and sustainable approach to tourism. Walking and cycle tracks and a nature trail will promote less reliance on motor cars and for those who have made the move to electric or hybrid vehicles we are going to install two charging points which will also be available to the local community.”

The consultants also note that broadband is a priority in the national tourism strategy. Their report recognises that free Wi-Fi throughout the site is absolutely essential in the modern age to allow holidaymakers to access information and stay in contact with workplaces as well as friends and family.

Mr MacDonald said: “Discussions with a broadband provider are ongoing and we would plan to make our provision available to residents.’’