PORTREE PLANNING ROW: Scottish ministers back controversial Isle of Skye holiday let

Portree harbour in the Isle of Skye. Pic Willie Urquhart

A planning decision to refuse the building of a contentious holiday letting unit in the garden of a Portree house has been overturned by Scottish Ministers.

Hany Metawie’s application for a one-bedroom unit behind the bungalow “Hamara” in Coolin Drive was refused by Highland Council’s north area planning committee in October.

It had attracted 17 objections including from Portree and Braes Community Council on grounds of narrow roads, lack of parking, hindrance to the nearby fire station which needed a clear exit for call outs and the commercial nature being at odds with a residential area.

However Mr Metawie appealed the decision and a reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers has now allowed it and granted consent for the development.

The property, as featured on airbnb

Concerns have been voiced about the number of properties now used for short-term letting purposes in Skye, with fears that the demand to purchase and build houses as a letting investment is pricing local people out of the market.

At October’s planning meeting, members heard that the bungalow Hamara was used currently as a self-catering let and that it had already caused problems for local residents with noise and parking congestion.

Hamara is listed on airbnb as a luxury super central cottage with a Hot Tub/ Gym that can accommodate up to nine people. Based on a search this week, a two night stay in July would cost just under £2300.

Former councillor John Gordon told the meeting that as businessman Mr Metawie was based in Edinburgh, it was difficult to get anyone to respond when issues arose at Hamara.

Addressing the disturbance issues, the appointed planning reporter, Michael McGlynn, said: “I have been presented with no evidence to support this. Having said that, should noise and disturbance issues arise there are mechanisms in place through Environmental Health legislation to deal with it.”

Regarding parking congestion, he noted: “From my site inspections (morning, afternoon and early evening), there is evidence of on-street parking; increasing later in the day. This is due to local car ownership and limited off-street parking.

“It is reasonable to conclude that people using the proposed accommodation would use a car. One additional vehicle onto the local road network, notwithstanding on-street parking issues, would not significantly affect the functioning of the local road network.

“The council has not raised any issues on traffic and road impacts and this supports that view. In addition, I have not been made aware of any representations made by the Fire and Rescue Service or the council in that respect.”

Mr McGlynn said: “I therefore conclude that the proposal accords overall with the relevant provisions of the development plan and that there are no material considerations which would justify refusing to grant planning permission.”

He imposed six conditions to the approval including that the property will be used for holiday letting purposes only, let to up to two people and shall not be used as a principal private residence.

The planning consent is for a period of three years.

Article by Jackie MacKenzie