Holistic centre set for former pub site
New lease of life for Auchencairn inn
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