Borders hall hoping to expand to host weddings and more hunting parties

Plans are being drawn up to convert a five-bedroom house near St Mary’s Loch into a base for stag-hunting and deer-stalking parties, as well as a wedding venue.

By Paul Kelly
Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 8:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 8:54 pm
How Mutton Hall, west of Selkirk, would look if a revamp planned for it is approved.
How Mutton Hall, west of Selkirk, would look if a revamp planned for it is approved.

Expansion plans have been unveiled for Mutton Hall on the Blackhouse Estate, south west of Innerleithen potentially creating up to 10 extra casual jobs.

Graham and Amy Allen have submitted an application to planners at Scottish Borders Council for change of use of the hall into a guesthouse to act as a hub for a rural tourism enterprise, together with the construction of a single-storey extension and access track.

That expansion would build on the popularity of the hunting breaks offered by the 320-hectare estate, in the Tweedsmuir uplands special landscape area, since last year.

Sign up to our daily The Southern Reporter Today newsletter

A spokesperson for the applicant’s agent, Galashiels-based Ferguson Planning, said: “The estate has offered seasonal hunting experiences on a commercial basis since 2019, making use of land which has not been forested.

“In the course of the first season, seven visitor parties visited the drives at Blackhouse, with each party including between eight and 12 people.

“The proposed development is intended to help increase the number of visiting parties during the fowl season to around 12.

“Although deer-stalking would supplement fowl-shooting, the two seasons would not overlap and no duplicity of use would be created.

“The estate intends to offer deer-stalking only during the first two months of the red stag and roe buck season, July and August, and thereafter the estate’s sporting offer will concentrate on fowl.

“The proposal is for the change of use of the existing dwelling to a guesthouse to provide a hub for an integrated rural tourism enterprise, including a small wedding venue.

“It will require an increase in the number of staff employed by the estate.

“During the completed season, 17 staff were contracted to assist with shoots at varying times of the day.

“The proposal will allow for an increase in contract staff on shoot days during the fowl season to between 20 and 22.”

“While the new roles created would be flexible, employment will be provided for up to 28, including 10 new positions.”