Dubai ruler wins tbattle to build six-bed lodge on Highlands estate

Billionaire ruler of Dubai wins two-year planning battle to build six-bedroom lodge at his Scottish Highlands estate just yards from family’s home

  • Billionaire ruler of Dubai wins fight to build a six-bed lodge on his Scottish estate
  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum bought Highland estate 20 years ago
  • The 63,000 acre estate  has a 14-bed manor house and a 16-bed guest house
  • Locals say the sheikh, who has had six wives and at least 30 children, rarely visits
  • Dozens of locals had objected to the proposal, but Sheikh Mohammed appealed  

The billionaire ruler of Dubai has won his two-year planning battle to build a six-bedroom lodge at his sprawling estate in the Scottish Highlands – despite it being just yards from another family’s home. 

The billionaire sheikh looked to have lost his fight to build the lodge after Highland Council refused a planning application to build on his 63,000 acre Inverinate Estate in June.

The sprawling estate is already home to a 14-bed manor house and a 16-bed guest house. 

Dozens of local residents raised concerns that the proposal was too close to a neighbouring bungalow and that it would spoil the natural beauty of nearby Loch Duich.

Roddy MacLeod was among the complainants, as the lodge is set to be built just 20m from his home of 35 years. 

The Scottish government looks set to approve an appeal from the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to create a six-bedroom lodge at Inverinate Estate 

The 71-year-old sheikh, with a fortune in excess of £14billion, has been accused of a ‘hostile takeover’ of his the shoreline of Loch Duich by adding several building to his 63,000-acre estate he bought more than 20 years ago for a reported £2 million

However the £14bn sheikh appealed to the Scottish government, which has now earmarked the proposals for approval.  

A ‘notice of intent’ revealed permissions is set to be given but will be delayed to complete final planning requirements.

The 71-year-old sheikh, who has had six wives and up to 30 children. has an estimated £14 billion fortune and bought the estate more than 20 years ago.

An appeal statement submitted by the sheikh’s planning agents stated: ‘There would be no ‘significantly detrimental’ impact on individual residential amenity, while the proposed siting and high quality design of the proposal would be in keeping with the prevailing character and pattern of development within both the immediate and wider surrounding area.

‘The appellants are content to fully endorse the planning officer’s report and leave it to the appointed reporter to make a judgement on the appropriateness of the siting and design of the proposed dwelling house.’

Nine councillors on Highland Council’s planning committee voted to refuse planning permission while five voted to approve it.

Roddy Macleod, 71, whose home of 35 years sits just 20 metres from the proposed lodge, said the new building in Wester Ross would invade his privacy and spoil his enjoyment of his property.

Neighbour Roddy Macleod, 72, whose home of 35 years sits just 20 metres from the proposed lodge, said the new building in Wester Ross would invade his privacy and spoil his enjoyment of his property

Councillor Maxine Smith, the chair of the committee, led a motion to block the proposal because of the house’s size and its proximity to Mr Macleod’s property.

She said: ‘I really don’t understand why they need to build right next to somebody else.

‘Putting that massive mansion right next to a small bungalow is just awful for the people who live in that place.’

Locals also raised concerns that the proposed access road which the sheikh wanted to use for the lodge was unsuitable and would cause increased traffic issues.

The sheikh’s architects altered the design of the building and reduced the number of bedrooms from nine to six in a bid to gain approval.

Planning officials wrote to his representatives asking why the lodge could not be moved to another part of the 63,000-acre estate.

They received a reply saying that he bought the land for the specific purpose of building the lodge and would not relocate it.

Government reporter Gordon S Reid said he would allow the building to take place after final planning details have been agreed.

Issuing a written ‘notice of intention’ Mr Reid said he believed none of the objections raised were enough to stop the buildings going ahead.

He said: ‘Arguments have been forwarded in the letters of representation that an alternative site should be utilised on land owned by the appellant further to the west.

‘Whilst I note this point, I must consider the appeal proposal based on the merits of the proposed site before me and not on the potential suitability of some other alternative location.

Pictured: Drawings sent to the Highland Council show Mr MacLeod’s bungalow sitting just metres from the sheikh’s lodge. The council refused the application, but an appeal to the Scottish government looks to have secured approval

‘Overall, I consider that the appeal proposal is in accordance with the provisions of policy 28 and the related supplementary guidance in terms of size and siting.

‘In addition, I am satisfied that it would maintain and be sympathetic to the character and pattern of development within the surrounding area..’

He added: ‘I conclude that, for the reasons set out above, the proposed development accords overall with the relevant provisions of the development plan, subject to a financial contribution being made towards offsite affordable housing provision.’

The decision is expected to be confirmed in due course.

The Highland retreat already boasts helipads and a 14 bedroom holiday home, next door to a 16 bedroom luxury hunting lodge with pool and gym.

Last year he was also granted permission to build a 19-bedroom lodge as well as a nine bedroom house at the estate.

Highland Council was approached for comment. 

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