A tourism-boosting Angus farm shop and steak barn project has been approved after councillors reversed a previous ruling blocking the bid.
Having twice delayed a decision on the project, Angus development management review committee voted overwhelmingly to uphold the Piperdam proposal planning appeal.
Forest Energy Scotland will create a farm shop, restaurant, biomass plant and staff house on the site at the north entrance of the popular leisure complex.
The Mullin’s steak barn-branded proposal includes a 140-seater restaurant with two additional bothy rooms and outside seating, a 100-seat cafe and farm shop offering local produce.
Angus planners initially rejected the scheme last year after officials criticised the project’s design.
Piperdam’s owners were among those who objected to the scheme.
But hundreds of letters of support were received, welcoming the prospect of a new business in the area.
On Tuesday, the development management review committee reversed the delegated refusal decision.
Committee chairman Gavin Nicol said it would bring jobs and tourists to the area.
The authority’s own economic development unit had earlier signalled support for the venture.
“I am a strong supporter of rural businesses and I think this is an excellent project,” said Mr Nicol.
“It will be great for the area when it is up and running.”
Councillor Bill Duff said: “Policies applied here were drawn up pre-Brexit and pre-Covid.
“The world has changed and this development meets many of the aspirations of Angus Council.
“We want rural jobs and we want businesses that can cater for tourists.”
He pointed to successful farm food restaurant businesses in St Andrews and neighbouring Perthshire, saying Angus would do well to follow.
Mr Duff added: “We also need to be open for competition. The planning process is not there to protect the present vested interest.
“There is considerable public support for this.
“In my view the development will enhance Piperdam for visitors and locals.
“It’s a relatively modest development – we’re not talking about building a Gyle shopping centre here.”
Councillor Richard Moore registered his dissent against the green light.
He said: “We declared a climate emergency and this is land that has been cleared (of trees) and is supposed to be re-planted.
“It’s land where 22 mature trees will have to be felled and we will get 66 in exchange, but how many years will it be before they are anything like mature?”
Committee colleague Alex King replied: “The area of ground is crop woodland. I feel this site could usefully be turned into a commercial activity supporting tourism.
“We’re getting three times the trees back that we’re cutting down and some species can grow quite quickly.”