Woman wins planning battle to build remote huts

Tuesday September 22nd 2020


An example of a hut that is to be built at Wester Deans. Photograph courtesy of www.urban-animation.com

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Joseph Anderson

An Edinburgh woman has won her planning battle to construct 15 wooden huts on land near West Linton.

Jess Windsor, of Westfield Road, Edinburgh, wants to build 15 huts on land to the east of Wester Deans, near West Linton.

Ms Windsor’s initial bid for planning permission was rejected by Scottish Borders Council in May of this year, with council officers saying the proposals would be contrary to the visual amenity of the area, and a lack of public transport would render the development unsustainable

However, through her agents, London-based Urban Animation, Ms Windsor appealed to the council’s local review body, which met on Monday September 21 to discuss the appeal

An appeal statement, submitted to the local review body by Urban Animation, reads:

“The development has been refused on the basis that it is impossible to create a suitable landscaping scheme at this site

“The planning officer suggests trees will not grow here, yet a fully mature commercial forestry crop was harvested on this site 10 years ago

“A typical landscaping condition has been applied to planning permission for various other local developments in recent times.

“Restricted access to active travel and public transport is given as a second reason for refusal, yet other developments approved locally in recent times are more remote from bus services and paths.

“Active travel and bus provision falls well within published Scottish Government standards for rural development.

“The planning department has applied very different standards to this application, beyond what has been required of other developments in the area.

“The applicant seeks only a fair assessment of the proposals.”

Councillors were split on the proposals, with East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton, supported by Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson, backing the officers, and East Berwickshire councillor Helen Laing, supported by Hawick councillor Clair Ramage, wishing to overturn the decision and grant planning permission.

Councillor Fullarton told the meeting: “A single water butt for the 15 huts strikes me as not very safe for the public, that to my mind alone puts it in a negative context. I think all of these huts should have their own tap inside, for health and safety.

“There are concerns about the access, particularly around emergency vehicles, and even just for refuse collection

“The remoteness of the site makes this quite difficult.

“I think sustainability is really important, and the lack of water, the issue around refuse collection. I think officers have got it right here and we should uphold their decision.”

Speaking in support of overturning the decision of officers, but imposing planning conditions around landscaping and tree planting, councillor Helen Laing said: “I’m very in favour of the principle of increasing ‘hutting’ in the countryside and it is something that is developing and becoming popular

“I’m more concerned about people bringing in supplies, and taking them away. The site itself is fine but I do have some concern around how the trees can be planted to conceal it.

“I’m in favour of this but it needs managed in terms of how it can be tinkered, and how the site will operate.”

The planning conditions put forward by council officers included occupancy limits on the huts, the provision of detailed waste storage and disposal information, the submission of a management plan concerning landscaping and tree planting, and a full planting plan and tree survey

With those conditions in mind, councillors voted five to two to overturn the planning officers’ decision, and grant planning permission subject to the agreed conditions.

You can read The Design Statement from Urban Animation HERE.

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