Plans for new Highland village given cautious welcome
Hotelier wants to transform a chunk of forest in Glengarry into a working village.
By Iain Ramage
Environmentalists have given a cautious welcome to plans for a new village in a remote Highland glen.
An Indian businessman gave STV News an insight into his vision for Glengarry earlier this week.
Sanjay Narang and his sister Rachna, a designer, have just opened three hotels after being left horrified by the quality of other accommodation in the region.
Now they want to transform a chunk of forest into a working village, including cottages, hotels, a street market and rent-free shops for local artisans.
But first they will need to convince watchdogs that their plans are environmentally sound.
Former forester and Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands, John Finnie, is intrigued but has serious reservations.
He said: "The Highlands has had enough of being treated as a theme-park, so if we are going to repopulate glens, first and foremost we must have appropriate jobs, appropriate housing.
"The purpose of this community is very important. If this is a new development that's intended to provide genuine jobs and be a genuine community with a school, or sustaining the local school with shops, then it's worthy of support."
Mr Narang said he was aware of the sensitivity of his project.
He said: "We're absolute nature lovers, my sister and myself - which is why we're here.
"So, we'd like to develop it in a manner which is completely environmentally friendly and hopefully do these developments in a manner with the most sustainable developments anyone has ever built on a per-square-foot basis, in terms of energy efficiency and pollution and all that."
Many local representatives are keeping their thoughts to themselves - community councillors said it would be premature to comment before seeing detailed plans.