Court to have say on Martha’s purple reign

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Defiant Innerleithen shopkeeper Martha Gibson is set to take her fight against Scottish Borders Council planners to Scotland’s highest civil court.

Mrs Gibson, 53, has been formally notified by the council that she has until the end of this month to challenge the validity of July’s decision to refuse her retrospective planning consent for the external decoration of her premises.

The council’s local review body determined that the purple colour she had chosen was incongruous and breached local planning policy.

Although she says she painted the frontage a year ago, Mrs Gibson required permission for that facelift months later because her shop, Treasure Island, in Leithen Road, lies within Innerleithen’s conservation area.

She has now been told that if she wants to test the validity of the board’s decision, she must apply to the Court of Session by Monday, August 29, and she intends to do just that.

“I have taken advice and believe I have a strong case,” Mrs Gibson told the Southern.

“If it was down to public opinion, I reckon I would win hands down because the local backing I’ve received has been fantastic.

“The petition set up last week to support me has already got 266 signatures, and I’ve had goodwill letters from, at the last count, seven fellow retailers in the town.

“However, I appreciate this is a planning matter, so I will be stressing the way policy has been applied in my case when there are glaring examples of other external upgrades in Innerleithen where applicants either received consent or did not even apply for it.

“This particular shop, for instance, which is not a listed building, has been painted cream, green and black in the past, so it’s a very subjective call to say that my Victorian purple should not be allowed on my Victorian shop. It’s little wonder I feel victimised.”

A council spokesperson said: “If the Court of Session finds in favour of the applicant, they would send the case back to the local review body to consider again.

“They would not quash the local review body’s decision.”