Entrepreneur gets go-ahead to create agricultural museum in historic East Lothian steading

Plans to turn a former steading into an agricultural museum and create a countryside retreat have been given the go-ahead, despite local objections.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 4:45 pm
Museum plan: Papple Steading

The proposals for Papple Steading, near East Linton, would retain the steading, which has been described as one of the finest in Scotland, while adding an auditorium and conference facilities including accommodation.

Entrepreneur George Mackintosh, who is behind the project, said that the new facility would be a rural retreat for groups to visit and enjoy the countryside, as well as becoming an educational centre to learn about the county’s agricultural heritage.

However, a virtual meeting of the planning committee heard concerns about the traffic created by the new centre, its impact on the amenity of local residents and wildlife, as well as objections over light and noise pollution.

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Local ward councillor Sue Kempson voted against the proposal, claiming that the application used “magic words” such as wellbeing and community to tick the right boxes with planning officers, who recommended permission was granted.

She raised concern about the type of events which could be held at the venue, referring to raves as potential celebrations.

She said that the suggestion by the applicant that delegates attending events at the new centre would not drive by car was “wishful thinking”, adding: “There may be celebrants who come by bus but that is only so they can drink themselves into a stupor, I suspect.”

She told fellow committee members: “This application is a lot of hot air; in reality, it is a venue for activities that will be detrimental to the local community.”

Mr Mackintosh said that he had sought a steading to save for several years before coming across Papple and was dedicated to restoring the steading as much as possible,

His business plan stated: “The proposed business retreat is intended to be an environment in which relationships can be forged, reinforced, repaired and deepened.

“It’s a place to plan, innovate, regenerate: a place for mental and emotional reflection and a place close to nature encouraging physical relaxation.

“Business meetings and conferences can be staged in this unique environment which importantly accommodates delegates for the period of the event.”

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