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Dalwhinnie
Name Dalwhinnie
Number 566
Year Planned 2001
Year Closed Never opened
Road A9/ A889
Location Dalwhinnie, Cairngorm National Park
County Highland
Postcode PH19 1AF

The arrival of the Noughties was a time when Little Chef had big plans. Owners Compass and Granada were looking to up their representation on key corridors and the A9, between Perth and Inverness was one of them. Time had not been kind to the A9 corridor with former sites at Inverness, Newtonmore and Killiecrankie all now closed leaving Tomatin, 11 miles south of Inverness soldiering on alone and around 100 miles of Little Chef free road between it and Perth. Something had to be done. 

Little Chef planned three new sites at this time. One at the Broxden roundabout in Perth with a Travelodge, one at the A9/ A96 junction with a Travelodge and lastly, one at Dalwhinnie at the A9/ A889 junction which would be a standalone branch. All were prime sites easily accessible by a range of routes so should prove popular with passing motorists. 

However, the A9 between Perth and Inverness had a long standing agreement which prevented roadside developments in order to protect the bypassed communities and their facilities. In the case of the planned Perth and Inverness sites these lay far enough away from the agreed area to be exempt but Dalwhinne was right in the heart of it so agreement was potentially going to be difficult. 

Granada and Compass knew this and mounted a case for the restaurant on road safety grounds, suggesting that few people were likely to take the detour from the road and into a bypassed community and were more likely to drive tired than to stop. Therefore they wouldn't be taking customers from the bypassed communities but rather finding new ones. In addition, they had the building designed to resemble a farm steading so it blended in a bit more with the surroundings. However, the planning application was thrown out not once but twice. Not long after the seconf refusal, Little Chef passed to new owners Permira who, it appeared, didn't share the same enthusiasm for A9 sites. Not only did noe of the three developments mentioned go ahead but Tomatin also closed in their reign,

Today the Dalwhinnie site sits empty. However, in the background much has changed. Inverness continues to grow, meaning more traffic uses the corridor between it and Perth, the historical agreement about A9 services has been overturned and road improvements are planned over the next 20 years along the corridor. The case for a Little Chef here has never been stronger.

Due to the fact it never opened and was planned after the Forte numbering system was phased out, the number 566 is an assumed number based on the numbers available and the number of new sites which opened or wee planned prior to Dalwhinnie

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