Edinburgh planning: Council's refusal of glamping pods in Pentland Hills overturned by Scottish Government
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City councillors previously ruled the “armadillo style” lodges near Balerno would “detract from the special character of the area” and said as the site was on protected greenbelt land it was ‘not essential for tourist accommodation’. However concerns over the potential impact on the Pentland Hills regional park have now been dismissed by a planning reporter.
It comes following an appeal by the applicant, who owns the land in question at East Rigg Farm and already operates a holiday let cottage there. Planning documents submitted on behalf of Mitch Scanlan said he was “seeking to expand the tourism accommodation offering with small-scale holiday huts” to generate retirement income.
The glamping pods – described as “a contemporary take on the timber chalet” – will come with private decking areas and each include a double bed, bathroom, kitchen and living space – and will be surrounded by trees and hedges to minimise their impact on the landscape. They will be built at a factory near Edinburgh before being transported to the site making them easily removable and, according to plans, are “designed to fit within rural and sensitive locations”.
This view was not shared by councillors on the planning sub-committee in April, however, where it was initially ruled the proposed development would “detract from the special character of the area”. A report to the committee said “no reasons” were provided to explain why a countryside location was “essential”.
It said: “The purpose of the countryside designation is to protect land around urban areas from inappropriate forms of development. This proposal introduces an inappropriate form of development undermining these aims.” It added that visual assessments indicated the site “will be highly prominent from a nearby road and Pentlands footpath for a considerable period of time”.
But the Scottish Government has now come down on the side of Mr Scanlan, concluding that the cabins “would not give rise to any unacceptable impacts on the character and landscape quality of the regional park” and would “integrate well with its surroundings”. Giving his verdict, Andrew Sikes, a planning reporter appointed by ministers, said: “While I acknowledge that the proposed tree/shrub planting would take time to mature and provide an effective landscape setting for the holiday huts, I do not accept the council’s contention that the proposed development would cause harm to the character of the countryside.”
Mr Sikes, who visited the site before making his decision, added the new lodges would “deliver economic and tourist benefits and would be accessible by sustainable and active modes of travel”.