THE FURIOUS owner of Belleisle House has slammed South Ayrshire Council for delaying his big plans.

Following a devastating fire which ripped through the historic mansion, John Campbell has hit out at the council and claimed they “worked against him not with him” as he attempted to transform the derelict building’s fortunes.

John, who owns Campbell Inns, was looking to turn the listed building into a luxury hotel which would rival Scotland’s top getaways such as Cameron House or Mar Hall. But the hotel boss said years of delay and disputes left his team with an uphill battle to get the property ready.

John told the Ayr Advertiser: “They (South Ayrshire Council) have handled all of this very poorly. We have had to over come every obstacle. When they first gave us planning permission, they requested we put 127 car parking spaces in. But the land could not hold it. They wouldn’t comply.”

Council chiefs have told how they wanted to buy back the stunning property which sits next to a council run park and golf course.

A spokesperson for South Ayrshire Council told the Ayr Advertiser: “Despite numerous assurances from Mr Campbell, he failed to comply with the conditions of the sale of the former Belleisle House Hotel.

“He didn’t comply with planning conditions associated with the development and failed to secure building warrants to enable the completion of the hotel.

“As a result, the Council took action in October 2018 to buy back the property from the Pension Fund who own it. This has been subject to significant delay due to members of the Pension Fund disputing the value set by the independent valuer in terms of the Minute of Agreement.”

John first bought the mansion from the council in 2013, with plans in place for the dream hotel. But he encountered problems when lodging plans to build on the grassy area surrounding the building.

In 2017, the dispute was heard out at a public meeting where it was argued that the reason for no progress being made on the development.

John added: “It’s the council’s fault that the building wasn’t finished, if they had given us permission it would be open by now.”

John Campbell was working alongside two others on the roof on Friday, June 14, when a spark ignited and the historic building went up in flames.

John told the Ayr Advertiser: “We were very close to being trapped on that roof. There could have been a fatality.

“We had a fire extinguisher which is needed when doing that kind of work, but it was completely useless. We tried our best, but we just had to get out. It could have been a lot worse.”

The three men were torching felt with gas on the roof after lead was taken from the premises the previous week.

He added: “That building is irreplaceable. It’s an absolute tragedy that this has happened.

“We kept the original hand carved Burns fireplace as we couldn’t possibly move it. It was priceless and was going to be the centre piece of the reception area. It’s such a massive loss and tragic for Ayr.”

The luxury hotel in the works had the potential for 80 rooms and was going to take up to two years to construct, with a huge extension planned. Plans included a state-of-the-art spa, fitness facility and swimming pool, as well as a function space that when finished was set to be a five-star venue.

Despite the devastation caused by the fire, John is defiant in the project and hopes that when the dust settles the manor can be restored.

John said: “If South Ayrshire council give us permission that we need, we can still rebuild it.

“The biggest tragedy is that it is such a historic building.

“We want it have a legacy in Ayr.”