Peeblesshire guest house plan is voted down

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A COUPLE’S dream of building a guest house in western Peeblesshire has been dashed, writes Andrew Keddie.

Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee voted 6-4 last week to refuse Mr and Mrs David Roy consent for the six-bedroomed facility in a rough grazing paddock at Craigswood south of Broughton, with a new proposed access off the main A701 Moffat road.

Principal planning officer Craig Miller had recommended approval, but seven letters of objection were submitted, one of which expressed concern “about the urbanisation of a very beautiful and natural greenfield site”.

The case for the objectors was taken up by Councillor Neil Calvert (Upper Tweeddale).

“This area ranks as one of the top 10 beautiful sites in Peeblesshire and, just because the applicants claim this is an economic development, we should not turn our policy, stipulating that guest houses should only be encouraged within building groups, on its head,” said Mr Calvert.

“There are already numerous ‘for sale’ signs along the A701 and this section of road is not served by public transport. I would hate to see pedestrians walking along this dangerous road to the nearest bus stop.

“I also have concerns over the business case for this proposal. There is a need for more guest houses in Tweeddale, but these should be nearer Peebles where there is a demand from mountain bikers and walkers which is not dependent on passing trade.”

In their supporting statements, the Roys produced a business plan, identifying projected gross revenue from their guest house of up to £60,000 from its third year of operation based on charges of £40 a night and an average annual occupancy rate of 46 per cent.

The couple also cited locational advantages to other attractions and estimated the local economy would benefit by £75,000 a year by the third year.

Councillor Jim Fullarton, supporting the application, told colleagues: “Economic development is the only game in town and should be encouraged ... it’s certainly not easy trying to make a living in the more remote areas of the Borders.”

But despite the committee being assured the new road access would meet SBC’s visibility standards, Mr Calvert’s motion to reject the proposal was carried by six votes to four.