BEACH BLUES: Outrage over glamping pods plan for Luskentyre in Harris

An impression of how the pods could look

A plan to develop a glamping site at famed Luskentyre Beach on Harris is creating a wave of protest.

Andrew Bartlett is seeking change of use permission from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to turn part of Croft 1, above the beach, into a site for eight timber pods for glamping – a short-form for glamorous camping.

Increasingly popular with tourists, such sites offer camping in scenic places but with comforts and amenities such as toilets, hot running water and electricity.

But the planning application by Mr Bartlett, of Seaforth Cottage, West Tarbert, has attracted 12 objections including from the West Harris Trust and South Harris Community Council. 

The application also includes a parking/turning area and the installation of a sewage treatment plant.

Agents for the developer, Edinburgh-based Glampitect, say the single-storey cabins which would be under three metres tall, would blend well into the surrounds and be open six months of the year.

Glampitect said: “This development will increase footfall for local businesses and through correct marketing, should increase the length of time tourists remains in the area. This will be beneficial for local tourist attractions, restaurants, and businesses etc.”

“The operator also intends to use local businesses to carry out the building and groundworks, utilising local suppliers and local labour. The site will create employment for the summer season for a  manager/warden and two cleaners/service staff.

“The site will also be marketed as a peaceful and relaxing retreat, which again should mean noise from guests is not a consideration.”

The location attracts thousands of visitors every year

The proposed site lies within the South Lewis, Harris and North Uist National Scenic Area, and all except the overflow car park is also within the Luskentyre Banks and Saltings Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Conservation agency NatureScot said: “In this case, the scale and nature of the development are such that we do not consider that the special qualities of the NSA will be adversely affected.”

However it recommended adjustments to the proposed layout to minimise impacts upon areas of the site which were of greater botanical interest.

A petition against the plans, on the website, had attracted over 2,500 signatures by Wednesday of this week.

The petition stated: “We have started this petition for all those concerned about unbridled development at Luskentyre, on the Isle of Harris – an acknowledged location of natural beauty that is now under real threat.

“We have an immediate focus on declared plans to install eight glamping pods on a site of pristine machair grassland, which will cause irreparable ecological damage and bring little benefit to the local community.

“We are approaching this as concerned stewards of a fragile ecology, and require that our voices are heard before short-sighted steps are taken that will forever change Luskentyre for both residents and visitors for years to come.”