John O’ Groats and Lands End are well known for being the two furthest apart points in Britain, but now John O’Groats looks set to find fame of its own thanks to a multi-million pound regeneration project.
Located in the Scottish county of Caithness, the village is currently undergoing an amazing redevelopment project that will see the site returned to its former glory. Developers are keen to take advantage of the beautiful coastline and scenery that John O’Groats has to offer, whilst key landmarks such as the dilapidated 19th century John O’Groats House Hotel will also be transformed.
The ambitious project is being led by tourism partners Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Natural Retreats and Heritage GB. HIE has invested £1.8 million in the first phase of the development, which will see the creation of a number of luxurious apartments within the John O’Groats House Hotel and stand-alone holiday lodges on the adjoining land.
Natural Retreats are building 23 lodges in total and have already completed a show house, which has enabled visitors and the local community to see what the units will have to offer.
The company is keen to bring benefits to the local community and has therefore employed a local workforce and used locally sourced materials, trades, contractors and green build techniques. Anderson Building and Construction Ltd was selected for the demolition and strip-out works for the former hotel, whilst Norscot Joinery Ltd will complete the 23 residences.
Other works will include the development of public areas and the Last House Museum and shop. In addition, the Journey’s End Café will be expanded.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise Chief Executive, Alex Paterson, said:
“HIE took the lead in bringing together the vision of businesses, residents, visitors and the community to create a master-plan for John O’ Groats which will unlock its true potential.
“This private public partnership investment will act as a catalyst for a number of projects that together will develop a sustainable tourist destination creating economic growth and local employment.”
Tourism Minister, Fergus Ewing, added:
“Tourism is very important to our national economy and is one of the Scottish Government’s key sectors with great potential to grow.
“Scotland’s towns and villages draw tourists from across the globe attracted by their beauty, heritage and the wealth of world-class visitor experiences on offer. The village of John O’ Groats has a very special place on the map of Scotland.
“I hope that the £1.8m investment from HIE and the other partner support provided acts as a catalyst to help kick start the regeneration of the area, boosting tourism and the local economy, and helping secure the areas longer term future.”
Michael Cantlay, Chairman of Visit Scotland, said:
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to visit such a unique development and to witness firsthand the progress that is being made at John O’Groats. Natural Retreats, Heritage Great Britain and Highlands and Islands Enterprise should all be commended for the role they are playing in the restoration of this iconic site.”
The project is scheduled for completion in September 2012.