The future of a former bed-and-breakfast establishment in the Borders remains uncertain now council planners have turned down a bid for it to be redesignated as a family home.
Tom and Sarah Watters, owners of Glenacre, off the A68 between Camptown and Jedburgh, applied to Scottish Borders Council planners for a certificate of lawful existing use.
The property had been used solely as a family home, and not as a B&B, for over four years, so it could now legally be deemed a dwelling, they said.
However, that was a claim rejected by council planners as they contended that there is evidence the property has been used as a guesthouse since 2014.
The couple’s application was refused, and the Watters, also owners of a self-catering property at Mounthooly Cottages, north of Jedburgh, now have two options, to appeal against that latest planning decision or apply to have its restriction to use as a guesthouse removed.
Glenacre, now a five-bedroom property, was built in 2005 as a three-bedroom house and operated as a guesthouse from May 2009, but the couple assert that it ceased trading as such at the end of January 2013.
Planning approval for the property limits its use to that of a guesthouse.
In a report outlining the reasons for his decision, assistant council planning officer Euan Calvert says: “The site and location was supported by planning policy of the day as the building was proposed to provide tourist accommodation.
“The agent asserts that the four-year time period has expired for taking enforcement action. I find otherwise.
“Photographs taken from the site visit dated August 18, 2016, clearly display signage ‘Glenacre B&B next right’.
“HM Revenue and Customs self-assessment forms for 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 all declare a B&B business.
“It is still possible to visit the advertising website Glenacre.com, and on Google you are invited to call the property by telephone for rates and availability.
“There may have been a period or periods since January 1, 2014, when Glenacre was occupied solely by the appellant and family, but it is not the case that the B&B use has been abandoned and that there has been an uninterrupted four-year-period of single family occupation.”
Peebles-based planning and property consultant Ericht, in a statement on behalf of Mr Watters, a self-employed electrician, and Mrs Watters, a corporate performance and information manager with the council’s business improvement unit, says: “Between January 1, 2014, and the current date, the property has been used solely as a family dwelling house by the applicants and their 18-year-old son.
“There has been no use as a guesthouse since the end of December 2013, and there has been no enforcement action taken by Scottish Borders Council in that period.
“The breach commenced on January 1, 2014 and continues to the current date, a period of over five years.
“A change of use of any building to use as a single dwelling house will become a lawful development after four years from the date of the change of use.”