Temporary Islay whisky visitor centre refused planning permission

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Plans for a temporary visitor centre for Islay’s newest and ninth distillery have been refused by Argyll and Bute Council.

The planning application, submitted by Hepburn Consulting, proposed turning a dilapidated barn at Ardnahoe Farmhouse near Port Askaig into an interim distillery visitors’ centre for two years ‘giving sufficient time to build the new distillery and then transfer the visitor experience to the new building’.

Documents cited ‘numerous enquiries from groups, island tour guides and individuals looking to visit and view the project’. The centre includes retail and exhibit space but it is not the intention to attract more visitors to the site but to manage and safely control those who agree to visit.’

However the application drew objections from direct neighbours who wrote: ‘The siting of a visitor centre/retail premises within the currently disused barn and using the dwelling house as a site office will generate increased traffic using an entrance that has reduced visibility due to its position on a blind bend.

‘These groups and tours will arrive in mini buses and in large numbers. The visitor numbers for Bunnahabhain are currently 12,000 per annum. If just half of these visitors stop off on the way, this equates to 6,000 visitors per annum. The proposed six car parking spaces will be insufficient. The applicant should be encouraged to concentrate on the construction of the distillery and appropriate facilities on that site for visitors when it is completed.’

Argyll and Bute Council concluded vehicle access and parking would not be adequate to cope with demand and ‘the proposal presents an unacceptable road safety risk’.