By Cara Sulieman
HARRODS boss Mohamed Al Fayed has caused outrage in a remote Highland community by winning the right to build luxury housing on his estate.
He was given the go ahead earlier this month to build stables and eight houses on the land, despite worries from the nearest inhabitants in the hamlet of Rosehall in Sutherland.
The area has seen a decrease in birth rates and increasing numbers of retired people moving in – sparking worries that it is a dying community.
Residents fear that instead of attracting more people to the idyllic setting, Al Fayed’s development will make the situation worse as he already owns unoccupied property in the village.
“End of community”
The plans have sparked controversy after being passed by Highland council despite several objections and claims the details of “affordable” housing included in the plan are unclear.
Villager David Goulder said: “Mr Al Fayed has four houses in the village that are permanently locked and shut with no one allowed access.
“It’s the end of the community if we don’t keep growing.”
Colonel James Houston, who served in army for 39 years, said: “The building will be one field away from me and spoil a perfect view south to the hills of Ross-shire and across the Kyle of Sutherland.”
Creich Community Council formally objected to the plans, with concerns about procedures for the affordable housing, how they’d be operated and by whom.
Councillor Robbie Rowantree raised concerns during the planning meeting, saying: “For me it hinges on the affordable housing but the report on this is scanty.”
A spokeswoman for Borcado, said: “We are now deciding on the plans for the development.
“This will include some affordable housing to accommodate concerns expressed by residents.”
The conclusion on the planning application said the development “demonstrates sensitive siting” and would “contribute to the economic and social development of the community”.
Al Fayed bought Inveroykel estate in 1996, adding to the 38,000 acres that he already owned and ran from Balnagown Castle, in Ross county.