Scots tourist hotspot could be privatised

The land could be handed over to a private company (Picture by Asterion)

JOHN O’ Groats is heading for “privatisation”, it emerged today.

Highland Council has confirmed that it is in talks with a Manchester firm to lease part of the famous site.

The deal would include the start and finish line of the many charity runs, walks and cycles that cover the 850 miles to Land’s End, Cornwall.

Natural Retreats is bidding to take over part of the land.

The company has a £6 million plan to develop the derelict John O’Groats House Hotel and nearby land.

It wants to create a complex of holiday apartments and lodges for paying guests.

The company specialises in upmarket self-catered holiday retreats, and  already has several cottages in the West Highlands nearFortWilliamavailable for lease.

The company proposes to take over the car park in front of the hotel, as well as nearby public toilets and common ground.

David Sutherland, who manages council services in the Caithness ward, said: “We’ve agreed in principle to lease land we own in this are to Natural Retreats.

“The council has no budget to invest in this area and we believe this gives the opportunity to improve the area.

“Obviously before signing a lease, we would make absolutely sure that the council’s interests of the public are protected.”