Leisure boss bids to build 19 new holiday lodges near Selkirk

Whitmuir Hall self-catering and country club near Selkirk is applying for an extension.
Whitmuir Hall self-catering and country club near Selkirk is applying for an extension.

Plans for 19 new holiday lodges at a leisure complex near Selkirk are being recommended for approval.

Ayrshire-based businessman Alan Williams bought Whitmuir Hall and its extensive wooded lands, a mile from Midlem, in 1989.

Having developed a number of holiday lets on the site along with a swimming pool and restaurant, Mr Williams sought planning consent in 2010 for 28 wooden chalets.

But despite the support of Scottish Borders Council’s officers, the planning committee voted 7-4 in 2012 to reject the plans which attracted a welter of local objections.

It was a decision upheld on appeal by a Scottish Government reporter.

Now, Mr Williams is trying again and, once more, SBC’s planning department is recommending that the lodges, spread over four-hectares, should be approved by Monday’s meeting of the committee.

A total of 40 objections, including one from Selkirk Community Council, have been submitted to the bid for outline consent, with several dissenters citing the adverse impact of the development on nearby Whitmuir Loch, a sanctuary for wildlife and a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Others flag up the road safety implications of more traffic using the junction of Whitmuir onto a fast and busy section of the A699 Selkirk to St Boswells road.

In his evaluation of the application, SBC planning officer Alan Evans says the development complies with the council’s policies on tourism development in the countryside.

“The proposal would result in the extension of an existing tourist facility that would positively contribute to the local economy and Borders tourist industry,” states Mr Evans.

“Provided that a high quality of layout, design, materials, landscaping, drainage proposals and construction methods are agreed at the detailed application stage, it is considered the proposal would not have a detrimental impact on the environment or visual amenities of the area or have an adverse direct or indirect effect on the adjacent site [Whitmuir Loch] of national natural heritage importance.

“The proposal would not harm the residential amenities of occupiers of the [seven] properties in the surrounding area and adequate access can be provided.”