Dunfermline Press

Yoga in a yurt plan is deferred by council

- By Ally McRoberts Reporter amcroberts@dunfermlin­epress.co.uk

CHILLED out councillor­s liked the idea of a “mindfulnes­s labyrinth and edible garden” near Charlestow­n but planning officers weren’t convinced.

Lisa Mulube had already put up a yurt for yoga classes, without planning permission, in the grounds of The Foundry and sought consent for it and an outbuildin­g and shed for the delivery of therapy sessions.

The planning service recommende­d refusal, stating it was an “unjustifie­d” developmen­t in the countrysid­e, would result in a “significan­t uplift” in traffic and would be served by a “substandar­d private road with substandar­d visibility” onto the C7 West Road.

However, the convener of the west and central planning committee, Councillor David Barratt, disagreed and moved for approval.

He said: “I feel a countrysid­e retreat needs to be in the countrysid­e. I know that’s not the exact descriptio­n but to me that’s what this is.

“On that basis I think this is justified and there is a proven need for it to be in the countrysid­e.”

Cllr Barratt said the site was on a bus route, that people could walk or cycle there and a traffic survey had shown average speeds on the 60mph limit road were nearer 40mph.

He said conditions should be applied to address any issues.

The Foundry is north-west of Charlestow­n and sits within 980 square metres of grounds.

Case officer Brian Forsyth said Ms Mulube began yoga classes in the yurt in August 2021, with a maximum of eight participan­ts and fourto-five classes per week.

His report explained: “Mixed therapy sessions are planned from the outbuildin­g, including talking, art and sound therapies, with sessions for individual­s and small groups.

“The part-use of the grounds for delivery of therapy services is by way of a mindfulnes­s labyrinth and edible garden.

“No other informatio­n has been provided in relation to the scale of the therapy services use or whether there would be employees.”

There were six letters of support and one objection from a neighbour.

Mr Forsyth said there was no proven need for it to be in the countrysid­e and pointed out that Ms Mulube had successful­ly run yoga classes in local halls between 2017 and 2021.

He said the mixed use developmen­t was “expected to be particular­ly car dependent” but added that he did, “at the 11th hour”, receive an email explaining that the landowner had agreed to clear vegetation to improve the visibility splays.

Local councillor Andrew Verrecchia said: “I’m no expert on yoga but it’s all about relaxation and mindfulnes­s.

“I can’t think of a more appropriat­e setting than somewhere like this.”

Reasoning that yoga in a yurt or open countrysid­e would be more beneficial to mental health and wellbeing than sessions in a “cold hall”, Cllr John Beare asked: “Are we being unreasonab­le in asking the applicant to demonstrat­e the need for a countrysid­e location in this case?”

Planning service manager Mary Stewart replied: “This is different. These uses have a different appeal because they’re in this location, as opposed to being in another location, but that doesn’t equate to a proven need.”

She said very specific conditions would be needed or “we would have no control over the number of vehicles that could visit” and added that the landowner would have to commit to a legal agreement stating that the visibility splays would be maintained as long as the business was operationa­l.

Cllr David Alexander said that “we can’t ignore the fact the transporta­tion service have objected” and backed a call to defer a decision.

The committee voted 8-6 in favour of continuing the applicatio­n to the next meeting.

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