Councillors have given provisional approval for a Harris pub to be redeveloped as a church building. 

There were no objections to the proposal at this morning's meeting of the Comhairle's Environmental and Protective Services Committee.

The decision will now require ratification at a meeting of the full council next week. 

North Harris Free Church proposes the purchase of the Isle of Harris Inn, in Tarbert, to be redesigned as a church building. 

Councillors heard that there had been 37 objections submitted to the Council, but the majority of these referred to issues which were not material planning considerations. 

Objections had ranged from there being too many churches in Harris as it was, to loss of a vital service to the local community. 

In response to objections and for clarification a director of the company that presently owns Harris Inn had stated: “Tarbert has seen an increase in catering establishments over the last few years and also there appears to be an assumption that the Harris Hotel (2002) Co Ltd, who are the trading company in both the Inn and the Harris Hotel situated on the other side of the road from the Inn, is reducing its service.

"On the first point, within walking distance there is:

An existing bar and restaurant open to the public and residents at the Harris Hotel.

A bar and restaurant open to the public and residents at the Hotel Hebrides.

A newly opened restaurant in the Isle of Harris Distillery.

First Fruits Tea-Room, which serves meals.

Big D’s Takeaway, which serves fast food.

"There are also a number of other restaurants nearby outside Tarbert e.g. in Scalpay (5miles) and Ardhasaig (2 miles).

They added: "There is the intention as a result of the change of use, to transfer the equipment from the Inn to an underutilised part of the Harris Hotel, therefore expanding the existing capacity of the hotel to offer meals and bar facilities all the year round.”

Proposal for the redevelopment was granted subject to implementation of specific parking conditions being made within the next three months.