The party’s over for a business boss attempting to keep renting out a West Linton mansion for what he bills as luxury hen dos.
Mike Cameron has been renting out Greenloaning Mansion, just north of the village in the Loan, as a getaway destination for groups of up to 30 guests – complete with cinema room, spa, outdoor hot tubs, pool table and gym – since 2008.
Mr Cameron, of West Linton, charges groups up to £8,000 for a one-week stay at the 7,000sq ft property and even offers a chauffeur services to and from Edinburgh in a black Bentley, white Maserati or blacked-out Range Rover.
However, he’d failed to notify Scottish Borders Council planners about that change from residential to business use, and they only found out once concerned neighbours began to complain about disturbances being caused by rowdy hen parties.
In November 2018, Mr Cameron, also a director of Edinburgh’s Dominion Cinema, was issued with an enforcement notice by the council outlining grievances including concerns over noise disturbances, detrimental impact on residential amenity and breach of planning protocol.
Mr Cameron subsequently appealed to the Scottish Government’s department for planning and environmental appeals, saying that because the property has been used for that purpose for over 10 years the council could no longer object to its change of use.
The appeal statement also outlined efforts the 57-year-old had made to reduce the amount of noise generated by guests.
They included removing two hot tubs from the rear of the building and instead installing a new one in its triple-glazed spa.
Mr Cameron offered to remove a barbecue from the rear decking of the property in an effort to stop groups of guests congregating outside too.
He also proposed employing a night manager to monitor the property and sound levels between 11pm and 2am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The appeals department has ruled against Mr Cameron, however, and he now has two months to stop hiring out the property, formerly called Linton Lodge, as a party venue.
Chris Norman, a reporter for the department, says in his ruling: “Before November 9, 2008 the availability of Greenloaning for holiday letting, and its limited use for 12 weeks, was ordinarily incidental to its main use as a house.
“Some two or three years after November 9, 2008, it ceased to be the appellant’s main residence.
“From 2010, Greenloaning was continually promoted and used as self-catering accommodation for short-stay lets.
“On the balance of probability and on the basis of the evidence before me, I find that the unauthorised change of use of the house occurred between November 9, 2008 and November 9, 2018, therefore the council is not time-barred from taking enforcement action and the appellant’s appeal fails.
“I find that the house is accessed from an unsurfaced road in the north-east part of West Linton and is in an area characterised by large, in the main, detached houses set in substantial garden grounds in a semi-rural part of the village.
“Its location some 200 metres from the A702 and the centre of the village means that residents in the area enjoy a very high standard of amenity.
“I have studied the representations on the case and note the alleged impact on residential amenity caused by the use of the property for short-stay letting.
“I further note that the appellant has taken steps to curtail the effects of the unauthorised use and, in particular, noise and alleged anti-social behaviour.
“I am also mindful of the support given by persons staying at Greenloaning to businesses in the village.
“However, I conclude that the unauthorised use of Greenloaning has an unacceptable impact on the character of the established amenity in this generally quiet part of West Linton.
“External activity can arise after 8pm, and a significant change to the quiet residential area has been introduced.
“The two-month time period for the cessation of the use is reasonable given the impact of the unauthorised development on the amenity of this part of West Linton.”