A "landmark" West Fife hotel that was built almost 150 years ago is to be turned into two houses and three flats. 

The Woodside Hotel, on the High Street in Aberdour, is a category B-listed property that dates back to 1875 but the owners said keeping it as a viable business was "virtually impossible". 

Plans to convert it were submitted in June and have now been approved by Fife Council. 

Owners John and Lis McTaggart took over the Victorian-era hotel in 2017 and last year put it on the market for £750,000.

In a planning statement Mr McTaggart said it was a difficult decision to turn the hotel into housing and said the pandemic, recruitment issues, high energy bills, the ongoing cost of living crisis and a “plethora of budget chains and Airbnbs” have all hit the Woodside and the wider hospitality industry hard. 

Dunfermline Press: John McTaggart outside the Woodside Hotel in Aberdour. John McTaggart outside the Woodside Hotel in Aberdour. (Image: David Wardle)

It continued: “Although the Woodside is not vacant or derelict as of yet, the proposed development is seeking to address the situation before it gets to a stage where it is both vacant and derelict." 

The aim is to convert the central main part of the hotel into three distinct high quality flats while the west wing will become a single four-bedroom home.

The smaller laundry building to the rear will be turned into a smaller one-bedroom home.

The existing rear outbuildings, which house the kitchens and toilets along with the bar and restaurant, will be demolished to form gardens or extensions to the proposed properties.

The plans also include the addition of solar panels, rooflights, external parking, replacement doors and windows, and landscaping.

The planning statement said: “We recognize the importance of the original hotel and its position in the conservation area and wider village context and the proposals have been formulated to respect this and not be detrimental or too intensely developed.” 

It stressed that the external appearance of the Woodside – particularly from High Street – will remain unchanged.

The McTaggarts had been granted permission in 2018 to change the use of parts of the hotel to two residential townhouses, but, following added pressures due to the pandemic, they instead modified layouts to reduce the number of changes required and planned to retain more of the existing building.

Attempts to downsize in 2021 were also unsuccessful, the number of rooms at the Woodside was cut from 20 to 13, but it wasn’t enough to save the business.

Dunfermline Press: John McTaggart said it was a hard decision to turn the Woodside Hotel into housing.John McTaggart said it was a hard decision to turn the Woodside Hotel into housing. (Image: David Wardle)

When the couple, who also ran a cafe in Aberdour, purchased the property in 2017 there was “disrepair, every room, and every part of the building needed renovation” but they believed they could “turn around the hotel’s fortunes”.

Major refurbishments and improvements were carried out to the fabric of the building – and its reputation.

However, lockdown hit the Woodside Hotel particularly hard, and the hotel also had to contend with major flood damage after a freak storm put its function room, bar and Clipper restaurant out of action for months. 

The planning statement added: “It was challenging maintaining a viable business through the winter pre-pandemic, and now virtually impossible post pandemic.”