Al-Fayed to fill Highland estate with jet-set homes

Flush with the success of his property deals in London, Mohamed al-Fayed is planning to turn part of his massive estate in the Highlands of Scotland into £1m homes for the jet-set.

The owner of Harrods has raised £52m from the sale of the former depository opposite the Knightsbridge department store, which now has some of the most expensive flats in the country. Mr Fayed has proved a canny property speculator: he made £17.1m in 1997 from the sale of another former warehouse in Barnes, London, selling it to Berkeley Homes.

Now he wants to turn a 200-acre disused quarry on his estate into a luxury development of up to 65 £1m family homes, surrounded by landscaped grounds, water features and some of the most spectacular scenery in Britain.

Over the past three decades, Mr Fayed has invested more than £20m in the crumbling Balnagown estate overlooking the Cromarty Firth in Ross-shire which he bought in 1972. Then, all that was left of the ancient clan stronghold of the Ross family was 12 acres and a ruined stately home.

He has built the estate back up to 65,000 acres, renovated the pink 14th century castle, launched a tourist accommodation business, increased visitor numbers to the area and generated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the local economy

He intends to fill the demand for top-of-the range properties in the Highlands by creating new ones containing all the "Scottishness" of traditional Highland country houses but with all the energy saving and comforts of modern homes. "We believe there is a huge demand for that sort of house," Gordon Robertson, for the the Balnagown estate, said. "Farm houses up here tend to have farmers in them and farm houses in Surrey tend to have stockbrokers in them.

"Lots of people are moving up here and would love a traditional family home, or at least something large, but they can't get them because there are so few on the market that they get snapped up at silly prices."

A review of sales over the past year by estate agent Knight Frank found almost half of the 5,000 Scottish country houses sold last year went to English buyers. A further 1,000 homes, ranging in price from £750,000 to £1.5m went to overseas buyers, mainly Russians and Arabs.

"The people who buy these sorts of houses will have disposable incomes and they create jobs," said Mr Robertson who claimed each property would probably have five bedrooms and between one and five acres of land.

"What we are trying to do is something really magical and of benefit to the community. This is a brownfield site and we think it would make an ideal location for new homes. If we do realise this, the funds raised will go back into the estate. Mr Fayed does not take the money away and use it to support Fulham or something like that. Everything that is generated in Scotland stays in Scotland."

As part of the plan to benefit the property, and the nearby village of Kildary, the proposals also include the possible provision of more land elsewhere on the estate for the construction of affordable housing. Highland Council has a policy that 25 per cent of new housing developments should be classed as affordable homes.

Although the quarry has not been zoned by Highland Council for development the estate has appealed against the policy. The plans have the support of Richard Durham, local councillor for Kildary. "Potentially this is very good news for an old derelict quarry site," he said.

"In my experience of what Balnagown estate have done, it appears that when they do things they tend to do them in a very competent, imaginative and professional manner. There is the issue of council policy, but like so many council policies it is written with a very broad brush and doesn't necessarily take into account local individual circumstances. I never cease to be astounded by the demand for top end of the market properties around here."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable