A US developer plans to transform a Scottish village into a private 'world' for billionaires. Locals are outraged.
20.09.2023 - 13:55
Thousands of locals are protesting a US developer's plans to transform a Scottish village into a playground for the ultrawealthy.
But the development firm says the string of properties it purchased in Kenmore, a village in central Scotland's Perthshire, won't be gated or completely closed to the public. The firm adds that it's helping create jobs and reopen businesses.
The firm behind the project is Discovery Land Co., one of the largest resort-community developers in the US, CSQ reported in 2020. The company has 31 luxury residential communities — referred to as "worlds" on its website — built or in development around the globe.
For its latest "world," Discovery Land is converting the previously abandoned Taymouth Castle into a private clubhouse with a golf course, the May issue of the developer's DL magazine said.
Plans for the clubhouse include a restaurant, equestrian center, two spas, and hundreds of residential properties on the castle grounds, according to Taymouth Castle's website.
Parts of the castle estate date to the 18th century, according to Historic Environment Scotland. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert famously visited in September 1842; the monarch described the estate to her uncle King Leopold I of Belgium as "enchanting" and "princely," according to an excerpt from the royal archives shared by the Royal Collection Trust.
It had many functions before it was left vacant in recent years, serving as a hotel in 1929 before being converted into a World War II hospital, a school in the 1950s, and a golf course, according to Historic Environment Scotland.
In addition to the castle, Discovery Land says on its website that it has acquired properties in Kenmore, including residential cottages, and businesses such as a shop, the post office, and Kenmore Hotel, all of which have been closed since 2022, the Daily Record reported at the time. It has also bought the nearby Glenlyon Farmhouse, a 7,000-acre estate in Tay Forest Park, with plans to convert it into a sports club for fishing and stag hunting, DL magazine said.
The announcement set off a furor.
Two Loch Tay residents, Rob Jamieson and Ingrid Shield, started a petition in June titled Protect Loch Tay against further Discovery Land development. More than 154,400 people had signed it as of Tuesday.
"The developers are a group of American billionaires who specialize in exclusive gated 'worlds' for the super rich," part of the petition says. "This is not what Scotland is about."
Discovery Land's developments are all private communities known for their luxury properties and members-only amenities such as golf courses and spas. They appear to be mostly in the US, with Florida and New York being popular locations, its website shows. There are