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Supporting the visitor economy – a focus on Braeval

We have recieved some queries and questions regarding this proposal near Aberfoyle for 40-50 family sized self catering lodges, so below is some background and answers to some of the questions – if you have more, let us know and we will try and answer them. We want to know what you think – and we hope this helps provide background.

Some context…

In an increasingly competitive tourism sector, it’s important that local businesses and communities within the National Park continue to benefit from the money that visitors spend and the support they give to ensuring the ongoing viability of some local services. We want to support some new development to help increase the range of accommodation provided in the National Park and to help provide upgraded or improved facilities. The map below from the Main Issues Report outlines where the opportunities are:


Click on the map to enlarge 

Recent trends in tourism development within the National Park show that more new facilities and accommodation have been approved and built in the Loch Lomond and Loch Long areas than others. The Trossachs area, including Callander and Aberfoyle, has seen less investment in recent years although important improvements have been delivered including at The Lodge in Aberfoyle, camping facilities on Loch Lubnaig and the links between Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond for walkers and cyclists.

However what we haven’t seen is new accommodation provision in the Trossachs area. Research undertaken in 2012 for Scottish Enterprise, the covers the National Park and Stirling Council provides information on current supply, demand and opportunities. This highlighted that the weaknesses of The Trossachs area is it’s limited range of hotels, in terms of budget, 4/5 star and ’boutique’. There is also growing demand for self catering units, particularly family sized accommodation. This was underlined in the further work undertaken last year outlined below. Any development of this type takes time to bring forward so we need to plan over the longer term for this and start to think now about where new built development can help the area to maintain and improve its visitor appeal.

Why is land at Braeval identified?

Last Spring we held workshops (called Charrettes) with communities and other stakeholders in a number of locations in the National Park, including Strathard. Publicised widely, these were open to everyone to attend and were supported by a household questionnaire. Feedback highlighted some support for some new accommodation in the Aberfoyle area, particularly as this might help local businesses that were struggling. Any accommodation close to the village would help increase trade for shops, pubs and restaurants. We heard also that central areas of Aberfoyle also need improved to look better and be more inviting, as well as improving the risk of flooding amongst other points.

The Charrette report identified two potential areas for self catering accommodation on land immediately to the east of Aberfoyle, however a subsequent detailed review of these sites ruled them out as unsuitable due to environmental sensitivities. The basis for recommendations in this report for visitor development or improvements is outlined in an appendix to this report. Following discussion with Strathard Community Council other opportunities were explored, having previously invited landowners across the Park to suggest potential alternative sites before the charrettes. We concluded that there is not much land in or close to Aberfoyle that has a good outlook (without being too visible!), that is free of flood risk and is accessible. However, the site we are suggesting in the Main Issues Report at Braeval (land owned by the Forestry Commission) borders the golf course, can be directly accessed from the A81 and also via the Rob Roy Way from Aberfoyle. It’s also located within a woodland setting that could screen new development. It does however include small watercourses that runs into Lake of Menteith which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest so this will need to be very carefully assessed.

To be clear, this proposal identifies a larger area than would likely to be required for 40-50 lodges. If it is decided to continue this proposal then further investigation into the potential scale, design and services would need to be undertaken before a further consultation in Spring next year. The number of units suggested reflects the potential market demand and number for a viable development.

Conclusions…

We think that there is a range of things that can be done to help tourism perform better in The Trossachs area and in turn help support the local economy much more. Not all of these involve new built development and from what we have heard should also include improved paths for walkers and cyclists, better information, more attractive village and town centres, repaired roads, a new visitor attraction etc etc… However, by increasing the range and quality of accommodation for visitors we can help maintain current visitor levels and encourage those who visit to stay longer  and in turn spend more money locally.

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