Coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee fails to make de­ci­sion on Tiree beach hut – once again

The Oban Times - - News -

THE FATE of a con­tro­ver­sial Tiree beach hut, built at Bale­vullin with­out plan­ning per­mis­sion, is still hanging in the bal­ance – de­spite coun­cil­lors meet­ing for a third time to dis­cuss the mat­ter, writes Sandy Neil.

Tiree en­tre­pre­neur Iona Larg, who runs surf­ing com­pany Black­house Wa­ter­sports on the is­land, which is billed as ‘the Hawaii of the north’, sub­mit­ted two ret­ro­spec­tive plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions for two wooden beach huts at Bale­vullin beach and at Gott Bay in De­cem­ber 2015.

The Bale­vullin hut at­tracted 39 ob­jec­tions and 100 ex­pres­sions of sup­port, in­clud­ing from TV chef Hugh Fearn­ley Whit­tingstall, while Gott Bay hut at­tracted eight ob­jec­tions and 17 let­ters of sup­port.

Plan­ning of­fi­cers rec­om­mended that Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s Plan­ning, Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices and Li­cens­ing Com­mit­tee (PPSL) refuse plan­ning per­mis­sion as a de­par­ture from the Lo­cal De­vel­op­ment Plan (LDP).

Coun­cil­lors de­cided to hold a lo­cal dis­cre­tionary hear­ing in An Talla Com­mu­nity Hall, Cross­apol, Tiree, on Novem­ber 28. Prior to the hear­ing, the ap­pli­cants with­drew the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion to re­tain the Gott Bay hut, which has now been re­moved.

At this meet­ing, coun­cil­lors agreed to con­tinue their de­lib­er­a­tions un­til Jan­uary 18 for an area ca­pac­ity eval­u­a­tion (ACE), a study pro­duced by coun­cil plan­ners to as­sess if a de­vel­op­ment con­sti­tutes an ‘ex­cep­tional case’ to the LDP, and presents ‘no un­ac­cept­able phys­i­cal im­pact upon an iden­ti­fied area of com­mon land­scape char­ac­ter’.

A draft re­port, pre­sented last Wed­nes­day Jan­uary 18 to the PPSL meet­ing in Kil­mory Cas­tle by head of plan­ning and reg­u­la­tory ser­vices An­gus Gil­more, con­cluded the Bale­vullin hut does have a ‘ma­te­ri­ally harm­ful vis­ual im­pact’. But coun­cil­lors again held off mak­ing a de­ci­sion to ‘cri­tique’ the ACE.

Lomond North coun­cil­lor Ge­orge Free­man, who pro­posed the mo­tion, said: ‘It is con­tro­ver­sial lo­cally. We want to avoid any po­ten­tial chal­lenge.’ Coun­cil­lor Roddy McCuish’s mo­tion to de­cide that day found no sec­on­der and so was de­feated.

Speak­ing af­ter­wards, Iona Larg told The Oban Times: ‘The saga con­tin­ues. The main ar­gu­ment is that there is an al­ter­na­tive site but it is not vi­able.’

Tak­ing the hut away, she said, would also re­move ‘our abil­ity to do busi­ness, and us as a fam­ily. I have three chil­dren on the is­land. [ With the re­moval of the hut from Gott Bay] that’s half of our busi­ness gone al­ready. This is our main busi­ness.

‘If Ar­gyll and Bute [Coun­cil] are se­ri­ous about pop­u­la­tion de­cline and sup­port­ing busi­ness, we have to do it now, be­cause we are leav­ing the EU: EU fund­ing will go.

‘ We are an en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly and re­spon­si­ble busi­ness that is to­tally self-funded.

‘We had per­mis­sion from Ar­gyll Es­tates, the landowner. The West Coast, Ar­gyll and Tiree has the most con­sis­tent surf and it is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. We have to look at what we have got. We are sup­port­ing Tiree tourism on an in­ter­na­tional level. If we have busi­nesses sup­port­ing fam­i­lies on is­lands, we should be say­ing, thank you.’

Coun­cil­lors have again put off mak­ing a de­ci­sion about the beach hut on Tiree. Surf­ing busi­ness owner Iona Larg told the The Oban Times the de­ci­sion could mean the end of her busi­ness and force the fam­ily to move off the is­land.

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