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GLM wins green light for John O’Groats revamp

Edinburgh-based GLM has landed planning permission for its £7 million project to revamp a hotel and build 23 chalets at John O’Groats in Scotland

The practice will now proceed with the first phase of the project at mainland UK’s most northern point which includes overhauling an abandoned 1865 ‘Scottish baronial-style’ structure.

Funded by a Natural Retreats and Heritage Great Britain (GB) joint venture, the new buildings will be the first investment in the tourist attraction since ADAM Architecture unveiled a masterplan for its redevelopment in September 2009.

Ian McKee, managing director of GLM said: ‘The design draws on Scottish coastal towns and the Scandinavian influence where gable ends of buildings were turned to the harbour.

‘We recognised the 150,000 visitors that John O’Groats gets a year needed something to hold them there and something had to be done to pull visitors in while also creating a focus point for discussion.

‘The colour injects a bit of fun to an area that can otherwise, and to people’s imaginations, seem a bit grey.’

Scheduled to complete in 2012, GLM’s scheme features 23 self-catering residencies and a 19-room ‘aparthotel’. The project will also revamp the ‘Journey’s End’ café which is currently the main visitor attraction.

Pitched at excellent BREEAM level, the design features timber cladding, locally sourced Caithness stone and turf roofs.

Matt Spence, Natural Retreats’ managing director, said:  ‘With the approval of these plans we will now be able to deliver a new vision for John O’Groats and ensure that visitors feel inspired, informed and educated by their experience.’

Allan Leech, chief executive of Heritage GB, said:  ‘[We] always felt these plans would be well received and we are delighted the Highland Council has shared in our vision.’

A planned second phase, also designed by GLM, will tackle the wider public realm at the location.

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