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Planning consent granted for first phase of £20 million Coul Links eco-hotel

By Ali Morrison

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Planning permission has been granted for the first phase of a £20 million eco-hotel close to the site of the planned Coul Links championship golf course.

Highland Council has given the green light for the development of four, four-bedroom “croft-inspired” lodges, along with a reception and breakfast building at Coul Farm, near Embo.

Proposed future phases of the privately-funded venture, which is expected to create more than 40 jobs, would see the number of lodge buildings increase to 20.

An artist's impression of the main building at the planne Coul Links eco-hotel.
An artist's impression of the main building at the planne Coul Links eco-hotel.

Edward Abel Smith, who owns the site and heads Coul Enterprises, the company behind the ambitious luxury eco hotel initiative, has said the project is entirely reliant on planning permission being granted for the golf course.


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Communities for Coul (C4C), a locally-based not-for-profit company, submitted a planning application for the Coul Links golf course development to Highland Council earlier this month.

Mr Abel Smith said: “I am delighted to have been granted planning permission from Highland Council to develop the first phase of the Coul Links Hotel.

“This is a project that has the potential to create good, year-round local employment and opportunities for suppliers throughout the Highlands.

“But these plans have always been based on a new world-class golf course that would attract visitors from around the world being developed at Coul Links - and that remains the case.”

C4C director, Gordon Sutherland, said: “We were very pleased to hear that plans for the first phase of the Coul Links Hotel have been approved.

“Like our own proposals, they can create real, new sustainable opportunities for people in an area where the long-term decrease in working-age population is a rapidly growing problem.

“They also share our central aim of putting the environment first and restoring and protecting the unique environmental features of Coul Links.

“We hope that we achieve planning permission for an environmentally sensitive world-class golf course at Coul Links to enable this exciting development to go ahead.”

Plans for the Coul Links Hotel development have been drawn up by Embo-based architect, Iain Levens, and are said to demonstrate "cutting-edge sustainability".

Mr Levens said: “Our design aspiration was to create a place that reads as a traditional ‘clachan’ collection of buildings with the walled pens and enclosures that can be appropriated as the hotel develops over time.

“While the lodge itself is built off walls with a solum avoiding any concrete floor slabs, the choice of a wildflower green roof adds several ecological benefits and becomes another area of natural habitat for flora and fauna with insects and invertebrates particularly suited to them.”

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