Premier plans for Thurso hotel to be announced 'in very near future'
THE company behind the multi-million plan to build an hotel on the former mart site in Thurso is expected to announce "in the very near future" when the project will start.
Premier Inn has stressed it is "committed" to the development and intends to appoint contractors shortly and indicate when the work will get underway.
There has been growing speculation the company might pull out of the project but a spokesman for Pentland Property Ltd, which bought the site from London and Scottish Investments last year, said: "Premier Inn is committed to this site. It anticipates announcing when the start on the site will begin and the appointment of contractors in the very near future."
However, Thurso and northwest Caithness Highland councillor, Donnie Mackay, was not reassured by the comment.
He acknowledged there has been "a lot of speculation" about the Premier Inn proposal and said: "I get asked about it every second day."
Mr Mackay added: "I will not be convinced until I see a digger on the site. We have been here many times before with Tesco and others but we got nothing. I regularly visit the site to see if there is any movement but there's not. I would love to see the site tidied up and welcome the Premier Inn plans. If the hotel gets built there then other developments could follow but we just need to get things started."
Work on the Premier Inn hotel in Thurso was expected to get under way in spring but was delayed due to "contractual negotiations".
In April, Fred Berman, director of Pentland Property Ltd met with local councillors and community representatives to set out the timescale for the first phase of the site's development. He said the construction of the hotel was anticipated in the early summer following negotiations with construction firms. The building is expected to be completed within a year.
Discussions also focused on the company's aspirations for the remaining seven acres of the nine acre site.
Whitbread – owner of the Premier Inn group – received planning permission for a three-storey, 81-bed budget hotel and car parking at the site in Ormlie Road.
Caithness hoteliers and other accommodation providers claimed it would affect trade and result in job losses while supporters said it will boost tourism and greatly improve an "eyesore" site.
The development is expected to create around 30 jobs and will be the UK’s most northerly Premier Inn.