Rejection of woodland cabin development near West Linton not an open and hut case

Land east of Wester Deans at West Linton lined up to host a development of 15 huts.Land east of Wester Deans at West Linton lined up to host a development of 15 huts.
Land east of Wester Deans at West Linton lined up to host a development of 15 huts.
A rejection by planners of proposals to construct 15 wooden cabins in countryside near West Linton has proved not to be an open and shut case. 

Applicant Jess Windsor’s plans for 15 huts on land to the east of Wester Deans have been given the thumbs-up on appeal by Scottish Borders Council’s local review body. 

Her initial bid for planning permission was rejected by council officers, using delegated powers, in May on the grounds that the development would be contrary to the visual amenity of the area and a lack of public transport would render it unsustainable.

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Ms Windsor, of Westfield Road in Edinburgh, appealed against that knockback via London-based Urban Animation, acting as her agent, and had it overturned by the local review body at a meeting held via video-link today, September 21.

An appeal statement submitted by Urban Animation, reads: “The development has been refused on the basis that it is impossible to create a suitable landscaping scheme at this site

“The planning officer suggests trees will not grow here, yet a fully mature commercial  forestry crop was harvested on this site 10 years ago.

“A typical landscaping condition has been applied to planning permission for various other local developments in recent times.

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“Restricted access to active travel and public transport is given as a second reason for refusal, yet other developments approved locally in recent times are more remote from bus services and paths. 

“Active travel and bus provision falls well within published Scottish Government standards for rural development.

“The planning department has applied very different standards to this application beyond what has been required of other developments in the area. 

“The applicant seeks only a fair assessment of the proposals.”

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Councillors were split over the proposals, with East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton, supported by Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson, backing the officers, and fellow East Berwickshire councillor Helen Laing, supported by Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage, minded to overturn their decision and grant planning permission. 

Mr Fullarton told the meeting: “A single water butt for the 15 huts strikes me as not very safe for the public. That, to my mind, alone puts it in a negative context. I think all of these huts should have their own tap inside for health and safety. 

“There are concerns about the access, particularly around emergency vehicles, and even just for refuse collection.

“The remoteness of the site makes this quite difficult.

“I think sustainability is really important, and the lack of water and the issue around refuse collection.

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“I think officers have got it right here and we should uphold their decision.”

Speaking in support of overturning the decision but imposing planning conditions regarding landscaping and tree planting, Ms Laing said: “I’m very in favour of the principle of increasing hutting in the countryside and it is something that is developing and becoming popular.

“I’m more concerned about people bringing in supplies and taking them away.

“The site itself is fine, but I do have some concern around how trees can be planted to conceal it.

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“I’m in favour of this, but it needs managed in terms of how it can be tinkered with and how the site will operate.”

Planning conditions suggested by council officers included occupancy limits on the huts, provision of detailed waste storage and disposal information and submission of a management plan for landscaping and tree planting and a full tree survey.

Subject to those conditions, councillors voted five to two to overturn their officers’ decision and grant planning permission.

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