Decision to overturn Ettrick yurts refusal welcomed by owner

A holiday site operator has welcomed the overturning of a decision to refuse permission for six yurts and a shop in the Ettrick Valley.

Three months ago, Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee voted 5-4 to refuse permission for Nicholas Weeks to add the yurts – Mongolian-style tents – community shop and parking to his existing holiday cottage business at Newburgh Farm Steading.

Planning officers had recommended approval, but four councillors backed the motion from Conservative group leader Councillor Michelle Ballantyne (Selkirkshire) who wanted it refused.

There was an angry backlash from valley hotel operators, who slammed the decision as crazy and Scottish Government reporter Dan Jackman has now upheld Mr Weeks’ appeal.

In his judgement, Mr Jackman agreed with the original assessment by local authority planning staff that Mr Weeks’ proposal, subject to landscaping conditions, would be a positive outcome for the site.

A delighted Mr Weeks told us: “It is as much a victory for the common rambler as for ourselves as a business.

“The valley will get a much-needed small shop as well as extra business from tourism.

“This issue does, however, beg the question: why is the council being mealy-mouthed about small businesses and can it afford to suppress new start-ups such as this in a time of economic crisis?”