Castle Stuart hotel and golf courses approved


Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Plans for a new hotel and two golf courses at Castle Stuart, Dalcross, near Inverness are to go ahead.

Cornerstone Golf Development International, run by Kingsbarns developer Mark Parsinen, gained approval from councillors for a development including two 18-hole golf courses, a driving range, clubhouse and a 57-bedroom hotel. Cornerstone is already responsible for developing several championship golf courses in the USA.

The proposal for the 176-hectare site also includes 28 apartments, a spa and leisure complex, 120 timeshare units and the conversion of Balnaglack Farmhouse to offices. The development is worth around £20 million. The site is close to Inverness Airport, and is expected to bring substantially increased numbers of golfers to northern Scotland.

The committee considered objections from seven local residents before director of planning and development John Rennilson recommended approval, subject to 57 separate planning conditions. "I am satisfied that, given the comprehensive and rigorous assessment of the proposal, the development should be delivered in a satisfactory manner," he said in his report. But there are still concerns over water resources and sewerage: Scottish Water has said the development will not be able to connect to the public sewer system. The developers have instead proposed building a separate waste water plant to support the site.

American architect Gil Hanse, whose course credits include Boston Golf Club, Crail Golfing Society's Craighead course and the much-heralded Rustic Canyon in California, has been hired to design the golf courses alongside Parsinen, who sold his interest in Kingsbarns last year to focus his attentions on the Castle Stuart project. The site, although not true linksland, is said to be heavily sand-based and ideal for golf.Work on the two golf courses is expected to be completed by 2012.

This article first appeared in issue 4 of Golf Course Architecture, published in April 2006.