Whitmuir Hall owner lodges lodges appeal

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.

A Scottish Government Reporter will decide if a businessman should be allowed to build 19 holiday lodges at a leisure complex near Selkirk.

Ayrshire-based Alan Williams, who bought the Whitmuir Hall mansion and its estate in 1989, was refused outline consent for the development by Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee in April.

But this week, he has lodged an appeal against that decision with Scotland’s Department of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA).

A Reporter will be appointed and will visit the site, with a final determination expected in October.

Mr Williams is taking issue with the committee’s assertion that he did not provide “sufficient economic justification” for the venture.

His agents will stress that Mr Williams requires consent in principle for the lodges – on undulating pastureland to the north east of the mansion – to “pump prime” the required investment in the wider estate.

They will also cite the submissions of SBC’s local planning officer Andrew Evans and of the council’s own economic development department.

Both had recommended approval of the application at the April meeting, with the latter noting that, if built to a high standard, the proposed lodges would address a shortfall in such holiday accommodation for tourists.

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

But the nine-strong committee of councillors disagreed, along with 42 members of the public who had submitted objections.

Many of these dissenters focused on the impact of the development on nearby Whitmuir Loch, a sanctuary for wild birds and a designated site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

It is not the first time Mr Williams has sought consent to provide extra holiday accommodation on his estate.

In 2012, SBC’s planning committee rejected his outline application for 28 chalets – a decision upheld the following year by a DPEA Reporter.