Neighbours set to fight plan for holiday chalet complex

Whitmuirhall Loch, Selkirk.
Whitmuirhall Loch, Selkirk.
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IF the planning committee of Scottish Borders Council allows 28 holiday chalets to be erected at Whitmuir Hall near Selkirk it will be creating a new village with inadequate tranport links next to a nature reserve.

That was the view of neighbours at last week’s meeting of Selkirk Community Council who expressed their opposition to the planning application from Ayrshire businessman Alan Williams, who bought the hall and its extensive grounds from the Dunlop family in 1989. He has since created a holiday complex with a games room, sauna, licensed bar and about 20 holiday apartments.

In 2009, Mr Williams submitted a bid for 28 chalets on a site north of the hall and its outbuildings, converted in the 1990s. It is close to Gala Rig where horse racing is held at Selkirk Common Riding, and picturesque Whitmuir Loch, half a mile from the A699 Selkirk to St Boswells Road.

The loch on Whitmuirhall Moss nature reserve and Gala Rig are both on a designated site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

Mr Williams’s original plans elicited 33 objections, and he withdrew his application “to reflect on the views expressed and undertake further consultation before submitting a new application at a later date”.

That date has now arrived and, judged by the reaction from the public benches last week, opposition is unabated.

In his letter of objection, Jerry Russell, from Merlin’s Keep, Whitmuir, said nothing had changed with regard to the dangers of the access road.

He wrote: “We live with blind turns and are prepared to take evasive action because we know the road and its risks. Visitors have absolutely no comprehension of what they are up against and this is demonstrated daily with cars and delivery vans flying round blind bends.

“There are still no public transport links at Whitmuir and to propose this type of development shows a complete lack of awareness of the reality on the ground.”

Mr A. Dunlop of the Garden House, Whitmuir, described the proposal as totally oversized.

“It is next to an SSSI which is not owned by the applicant and will be of great detriment to Whitmuir Loch and the wildlife thereabout,” he added.

Dr Lindsay Neil, who chaired last week’s meeting, said the community council had agreed to defer giving its verdict on the bid to SBC.

He said: “Given the clear strength of feeling, our planning sub-committee will arrange to meet the residents to further discuss their concerns before passing judgement next month.

“Hopefully, this will give our submission to SBC extra weight.”