Holis­tic cen­tre set for for­mer pub site

New lease of life for Auchen­cairn inn

The Galloway News - - INTIMATION­S - Stephen Nor­ris

A for­mer Auchen­cairn pub is set for a new lease of life as a holis­tic re­treat and restau­rant.

Last or­ders were called at the Old Smug­glers Inn in Fe­bru­ary, 2015, amid a fu­ri­ous row over its fu­ture.

But now an oa­sis of calm is promised with yoga and reiki re­plac­ing pies and pints.

Work is also un­der way to cre­ate a restau­rant and events space in the Main Street premises.

Vil­lage res­i­dent and Kirkcud­bright High School teacher Esther Stevenson is lead­ing the ven­ture.

Ms Stevenson, 46, bought and ren­o­vated part of the pub as her home.

She said: “The com­mer­cial kitchen is still there and is be­ing re­fur­bished.

“The pro­gramme of works is un­der way and we an­tic­i­pate the restau­rant will be ready by the end of Oc­to­ber.

“We are now look­ing for some­one to run the restau­rant.

“There will be a place for holis­tic heal­ing and for lo­cal peo­ple to use.

“If they want to run events in it then the space is there. I re­ally want to be able to do this for the com­mu­nity.

“It would be good to have mu­sic and story-telling nights.”

Ms Stevenson bought her home from Bolton-based MCH In­vest­ments Ltd who still own the re­main­der of the premises.

MCH di­rec­tor Dave Hy­land was in­volved in a two-year wran­gle with the Auchen­cairn Ini­tia­tive over a com­mu­nity bid to buy the pub.

In Jan­uary, 2016, a deal was close but the com­mu­nity with­drew its in­ter­est in an at­mos­phere of in­creas­ing ac­ri­mony.

MCH then ap­plied to con­vert the ex­ten­sive prop­erty into two houses.

Vil­lagers were op­posed and the plan­ning com­mit­tee re­fused per­mis­sion on the chair­man’s cast­ing vote.

MCH then of­fered the com­mu­nity a 99-year lease with an op­tion to buy af­ter two years.

Talks again broke down and MCH’s re-ap­plied for – and were granted – plan­ning ap­proval last year.

Ms Stevenson was un­con­cerned about ear­lier dis­putes.

She said: “I think it’s all wa­ter un­der the bridge. It will be me lo­cal peo­ple are deal­ing with. Lo­cal folk are just glad there’s some­thing hap­pen­ing with the build­ing.”

Mr Hy­land said: “This will breathe fresh life into Auchen­cairn as well as pro­vid­ing much more di­verse trade for the ben­e­fit of other busi­nesses in the area.

“Whilst this devel­op­ment is not go­ing to pro­duce a pub, it will pro­vide a fo­cal point and an at­trac­tive venue in the cen­tre of the vil­lage, the like of which has been miss­ing for too long.”

Auchen­cairn Com­mu­nity Coun­cil chair­man John Simp­son,

above, said: “The vil­lage wanted it to stay as a pub but Mr Hy­land ap­pealed against the ap­pli­ca­tion be­ing re­fused and the de­ci­sion was over­turned.

“Times move on and I would have no ob­jec­tion to this. If it be­comes a restau­rant it will be good for the vil­lage.”

Devel­op­ment bid Esther Stevenson out­side the Old Smug­glers Inn, Auchen­cairn, where she plans to open a holis­tic cen­tre and restau­rant

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