A TRUSTEE of Selkirk’s Haining Estate has defended a decision to give notice to two of its long-term residents.
Susan Edington said the proposal to turn properties in the stable block courtyard into holiday flats had been known since 2010 when plans were first drawn up to invest £1.2million to create six artisan studios.
Mrs Edington was responding to criticism from David Scott, who late last month received a letter from estate agents CKD Galbraith, acting of behalf of the trust, informing him his six-month short-term assured tenancy was not being renewed and that he had, effectively, two months to get out.
Another tenant, Jim Sinclair of Dairy Cottage, has been given six months’ notice to quit.
Mr Scott, 61, has rented a two-bedroomed upstairs flat for the past 11 years and believes the creation of holiday homes is out of kilter with the spirit of the bequest of late owner, Andrew Nimmo-Smith, who died in July 2009 and left historic Haining House and its 160-acre estate “for the benefit of the community of Selkirkshire and the wider public”.
“I am certain it would not have been the wish of this most benevolent man to see tenants evicted to make way for a money-making enterprise, effectively replacing affordable housing – my rent is £300 a month – with holiday homes,” said Mr Scott.
Mrs Edington said the proposals for the artisan studios, which would create local employment and which received planning consent a year ago, were always predicated on some residential properties becoming holiday lets. In the event, only two of the six properties were being converted for that purpose.
“We are working to a 10-year plan which is absolutely driven by both the letter and spirit of Mr Nimmo-Smith’s bequest with the ultimate aim of creating a gallery of modern art at The Haining.
“There was an unfortunate breakdown in communications which resulted in Mr Scott being given notice without first being offered alternative accommodation. I have apologised for this and he has now been offered another empty upstairs property in the stable block complex. To my knowledge, Mr Sinclair has declined a similar offer.”
Mrs Edington explained, however, that she had received legal advice that the current rents were below market value rates and, if this was to continue, the trust would be in breach of its duties as a charity.
Mr Scott said he had yet to decide whether to accept the alternative accommodation because he did not know what his new rent would be.
“It may well be that neither myself nor, indeed, any of the tenants whose rents are also due to be hiked up, can afford to stay here, which would be sad and not at all in the spirt of Mr Nimmo-Smith’s wishes.”
But Ms Edington said that Mr Nimmo-Smith, a lawyer, had insisted on the six-month tenancies for all tenants on the estate.
“I am sorry Mr Scott feels so aggrieved, but the support and goodwill the trust has received from the public who realise we must generate income to achieve our aim, has been overwhelming,” she added.