Residents in Pitlochry have hit out at a decision to allow a new restaurant in the town after one of them was denied the chance to make a deputation at a recent planning meeting.

PKC’s planning and development management committee recently went against officers’ recommendations and approved a train carriage restaurant in the town.

Alison Stephenson, who lives only 20-30 metres away, was prevented from speaking at the April 7 meeting.

Councillors voted by seven to five to approve two 1970s railway carriages - housing The Wee Choo which will serve Thai food - be developed within the tourist town’s central car park.

The two Great Western Railway carriages will be situated on 11 existing parking bays adjacent to the Highland Main Line and within a council-owned car park close to the train station and public toilets.

It was approved subject to the applicants entering into an agreement to secure appropriate off-site contributions to address the loss of parking.

Planning officers recommended refusal on the grounds of concerns over loss of parking, road traffic and safety.

Alison hoped to make a deputation - on behalf of her neighbours - at the recent planning meeting but never heard anything back from PKC.

She said: “I sent in the deputation ahead of the deadline. I thought I would get the telephone number or video link to speak.”

Instead Alison just had to watch the meeting streaming online - unable to speak.

She hoped to raise the issue of it being a conservation area and trees being taken down and felt frustrated their views as local residents and business-owners were not heard.

A PKC spokesperson apologised and told the Perthshire Advertiser the request for a deputation was “unfortunately misinterpreted”.

“We have relayed our apologies to Miss Stephenson through her local elected member, with whom she had raised the issue.”

Fellow nearby residents and local business owners spoke to the Perthshire Advertiser about their disappointment.

Councillors were told the restaurant would boost local business but Mark Wood, who owns Mackenzies Coffee House just round the corner on Atholl Road, is not convinced.

He said: “The main aim of a car park is to park and come out.”

He said it was up to him and other business owners to attract car park users into their shops and restaurants.

Mr Wood said: “We are not against the Thai restaurant but we feel the reason they have chosen this location is because this is the most commercially viable place.

Mr Wood thinks the restaurant could be located in a better spot within Pitlochry and still next to the railway line.

Lisa Zaczek lives in a flat overlooking the car park and said that it was busy over the weekend despite the majority of shops and restaurants being closed due to COVID.

She said: “I live right next to it. I don’t think anyone living close to it is happy about it. We know how busy the car park already is.

“It was like T in the Park at the weekend.”

It is proposed the restaurant will be open from 9am until 10pm in the summer and, as well as seating up to 60 diners, it will serve takeaway food.

Fergus McCallum is setting up The Wee Choo with wife Isara and daughter Mia.

He argued the car park was still busy late at night and said: “The coaches still come until about 8-11pm.

“We will get 60 people moving about every two hours whereas coaches coming and going every five minutes will have about 56 people moving around.”

Fergus added: “We do not want to disturb, inconvenience or trouble a single person.

“My aim is to be the quietest neighbour in the planet. We are very happy to talk and meet with people.

“There will be no live music, no drinks licence.”

As well as securing a legal agreement on an appropriate contribution towards the cost of replacement parking spaces elsewhere in Pitlochry a lease will also need to be agreed with PKC.