Shepherd and Strutt & Parker appointed joint agents to attract new developers for ambitious expansion plans at John O’Groats

Heritage GB and Natural Assets have appointed Shepherd Chartered Surveyors and Strutt & Parker as joint agents to attract new investors and developers to realise ambitious plans for expansion at the iconic location of John O’Groats.

expansion at john o groats

Located on the far north coast of Scotland in the county of Caithness overlooking the Pentland Firth to the Orkneys, John O’Groats is a popular tourist destination famous for lying on the north-eastern point of one end of the longest distance between two inhabited points on the British mainland, with Land’s End in Cornwall lying 876 miles to the southwest.

As a destination, John O’Groats has benefited significantly from the Natural Retreats’ development and regeneration in recent years and the investment and growth of other local operators. Furthermore, the North Coast 500 (NC500) has proven highly successful to both the domestic and international markets.

Additionally, John O’Groats and the wider region is starting to see the economic benefits of Meygen’s long-term commitment to developing tidal energy within the Pentland Firth, a commitment and investment that will see long term onshore benefits and opportunities.

To date, as part of HIE backed multi-million-pound regeneration of the area, 23 luxury Natural Retreats residences were launched in 2012, the Storehouse and Last House-Outfitters also opened in 2012 and the restoration and eye-catching Norse style extension of the John O Groats hotel, originally built in 1875, into The Inn at John O’Groats and its’ self-catering apartments, opened in 2013.

Outline planning consent is now in place for a masterplan development which proposes a high-level structure formed around a series of six zones. Each zone will have its own character and will be defined by a mix of uses within it. Development within each zone will take place as and when demand and investment is present. The six zones are:

• Zone 1 – harbour front and public realm – sea front with Last House, cafes, small retail, harbour and public areas. Buildings largely existing but scope for careful insertions.

• Zone 2 – central core – mixed use development around a pedestrian square, including food and beverage, retail, small residential units, existing retail buildings retained and upgraded.

• Zone 3 – natural retreats site – holiday accommodation and ancillary functions. Public park and play area. This zone is largely developed except for landscaping improvements, park and possible insertions into gaps.

• Zone 4 – artisans and craftsmen – small artisan industrial units such as micro-brewery, distillery, weavers, etc. Community buildings such as children’s centre, medical centre, etc.

• Zone 5 – events field – green space at the centre of the village suitable for large scale community events as well as day to day recreation. Potential pavilion building.

• Zone 6 – residential quarter – family housing, detached cottages, villas and terraced houses. Walled market garden/allotments and overflow car parking.

Sandy Rennie, partner in the Inverness office of Shepherd Chartered Surveyors, said: “Expressions of interest are sought from third party investors including developers, operators and any potential tenants. This is a unique opportunity to invest in an iconic location within the UK and capitalise on the tourist trade within Scotland, which has gone from strength to strength, particularly the success of the North Coast 500 route which has rapidly established itself as one of the most scenic driving routes in the world.”

Euan MacCrimmon at Strutt & Parker, added: “We are very excited about the appointment and opportunity, particularly given that John O’Groats is very much enjoying a surge in popularity, following the last five years of large scale new developments and the NC500 effect, which has created another wave of visitation to the area.”

Heritage GB operates some of the UK’s landmark destinations and popular visitor attractions, while Natural Retreats is a luxury leisure and travel company operating a wide portfolio of coastal, countryside and wilderness locations around the world.

Interested parties should contact the joint agents on tel 01463 712239 or 01463 719171.


For further information please contact Sandy Rennie at Shepherd on tel 01463 712239 or Euan MacCrimmon at Strutt & Parker on tel 01463 719171

Issued on behalf of Shepherd by Liquorice Media tel 0187 738 2961

Date 22 November 2017

Notes to Editors

• The history of the John O’Groats site dates back to 1496 when Jan De Groot was granted a charter to the land by the Earl of Caithness. A house was built to accommodate a grand feast which was to celebrate the anniversary of his arrival in Caithness. The house soon became known as John De Groots House which later became an inn on the site of the present hotel. The octagonal tower of the John O’Groats House Hotel as it is today is a replica of the original John De Groots house.

• Nowadays the John O’Groats Inn is an architecturally listed, landmark building situated at the most north easterly point of mainland Britain. This has been redeveloped into a 19-unit apartment hotel and is complemented by 23 self-catering residences, all of which are aimed at the visitor looking for a 5-star experience.

• The first stage of the regeneration, which included the restoration of the iconic Inn at John O’Groats and the construction of 23 luxury lodges, was completed in 2013 and has been a resounding success for the area and its inhabitants. Natural Retreats, HIE and Heritage GB invested over £7.5 million which has transformed the former hotel and brought many benefits to the local area as well as to the wider region.

• The development affords the visitor spectacular views across the Pentland Firth and across to the Orkney Islands. It is the start, or in some cases the finish, of the many historic Land’s End to John O’Groats 875 mile ‘End to End’ journeys.

• The approval in 2015 from the Highland Council for planning in principle provides the platform from which Natural Assets, Heritage GB and their partners can begin detailed plans for each of the zones knowing the provisional strategy has the support of the Highland Council. The consent does not provide permission to commence development as this will have to be sought through further detailed planning applications with partners and further engagement with the community.

• Part of the overall strategy is to attract more visitors and to encourage them to stay longer, which will be achieved by enhancing the on-site visitor experience. As part of this strategy Heritage Great Britain and Natural Assets are keen to support new initiatives and developments across John O’Groats.