Caravan reprieve for ‘naive’ hotel boss

Selina Proctor and Alistair Moody owners of Tibbie Shiels Inn.
Selina Proctor and Alistair Moody owners of Tibbie Shiels Inn.

A static caravan, installed without planning consent and used for the past five years as seasonal accommodation for staff at a Borders hotel, has been given a stay of execution.

In January, Alistair Moody, owner of Tibbie Shiels Inn on the western shore of scenic St Mary’s Loch, faced the prospect of having to remove the mobile home when his bid for retrospective planning permission was refused by a Scottish Borders Council planning official.

He lodged an appeal and, on Monday, the council’s local review body agreed to defer a final decision pending “written submissions to provide additional information”.

“At least it means my staff will not be made homeless at our busiest time of the year,” said Mr Moody after the meeting.

“The van, which shares the same private water supply as the hotel, has been there for five years and replaced one that had been on the site for 30 years before that.

“Throughout all that time it has been a vital part of the hotel business and no planning issues have ever arisen.”

Last summer he received a visit from a council enforcement officer who, acting on a complaint from St Mary’s Loch Sailing Club, told Mr Moody he would have to submit a retrospective planning application for the caravan – nestled under a tree close to the hotel.

The club, along with Ettrick and Yarrow Community Council, objected to his bid, the former expressing flooding concerns over the caravan’s septic tank and the latter claiming it could set a precedent for “similar random sitings” of permanent residential caravans in the area.

Using delegated powers, planning officer Dorothy Amyes refused the application, determining that the economic case for the caravan had not been established and that it did not respect the character of the surrounding area.

Reacting to Monday’s reprieve, Mr Moody told The Southern: “I admit I have been naive as far as the planning system is concerned but I really never thought things would go this far.

“I’m grateful for this chance to fully co-operate with council planners in providing all the information they require and hopefully allaying their fears.”