Legal twist in yurts row

Nick Weeks who has has planning permission refused for six yurts in the Ettrick Valley.

Nick Weeks who has has planning permission refused for six yurts in the Ettrick Valley.

THE row over a decision by councillors to turn down an application for six yurts and a shop could soon end up in the courts.

Earlier this month, members of Scottish Borders Council planning committee voted 5-4 to refuse permission for Nicholas Weeks to add the yurts – Mongolian-style tents – community shop and parking to his existing successful holiday cottage business at Newburgh Farm Steading.

Planning officers had recommended the application be approved, but four councillors backed the motion from Conservative group leader Councillor Michelle Ballantyne (Selkirkshire) who called for it to be refused because it involved an isolated site with no amenities; had a lack of public transport and that there could be potential problem caused by dogs belonging to people who came to stay in the yurts.

Local hotel owners slammed the decision as doing nothing to help boost the economy of fragile rural areas such as the Ettrick Valley.

And Mr Weeks has now told The Wee Paper he is even more bamboozled as the official notification from the council citing the reasons his application was refused, says it was due to it contravening council planning policies.

These were that the proposal would involve the intrusive development of an isolated and exposed site; that it would generate significant noise disruption; a traffic generation problem would be exacerbated by a lack of public transport and that the development would be harmful to the amenities of nearby residents and to the scenic qualities of the area generally.

The Wee Paper contacted Councillor Ron Smith (Hawick & Hermitage, LD), planning committee chairman, for an explanation as to how planning officers could recommend an application be approved, but for it to be refused because it contravened council planning policies.

Mr Smith responded: “It does sometimes happen that interpretations of policy can differ between officers and members, as well as between members themselves, on the perceived impact on the neighbours’ amenity and on the landscape.”

But Mr Weeks intends appealing the decision and is also considering lodging a formal complaint with council chief executive, Tracey Logan.

“I have a meeting with a litigation lawyer next week to seek a judicial review.

“This should never have gone before the committee – they have shot themselves in the foot with this one and I see no reason why a judicial review will not go ahead.”




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