Skye businessman invokes King in pod row

King Charles and the Queen Consort are serenaded by renowned Gaelic singer, Robert Robertson, during last year’s visit to Portree.

A businessman on Skye has cited a visit to Skye by King Charles to bolster the appeal of his controversial plans to erect glazed pods outside one of his hotels in the village.

Writing to the Free Press this week, Campbell Dickson responded to concerns raised by several local residents over his proposals to site three greenhouse-style pods for seating patrons outside the Rosedale Hotel in Beaumont Crescent.

Mr Dickson was previously given the green light for the provision of seven glazed pods outside the hotel as part of a temporary consent during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the pods were never erected. 

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Now Mr Dickson wishes to site three pods, but his planning application has drawn objections from neighbours who say the development will be detrimental to road safety, amenity and Portree’s harbourside conservation area.

Responding to the opposition to his plan, Mr Dickson told the Free Press: “The three objection points seem to centre around pedestrian safety, noise nuisance and the decking “lacking dignity in a heritage and conservation area.

“It surely cannot be deemed safer to step between parked cars and vans rather than stepping onto an open decking to avoid traffic?

“Standing between parked cars and vans and being seen by the oncoming vehicle is questionable at best, rather than being in full view of the driver while standing on the open decking?”

Mr Dickson said he had invited each of the adjacent neighbours to view the improvements made at the hotel over the past year.

He added: “During our conversations with each of them there has never been the mention of any noise disturbance, and nor in the past year while the decking was in use was there any formal objection reported for such an event.”

Referencing the suggestion that plans would not be in keeping within what was a conservation area, Mr Dickson cited King Charles’ visit to Portree in 2021, when his majesty spent time at the Rosedale during his stay. 

He added: “Last summer our King, a very strong proponent of conservation, along with his Consort and council officials, when visiting the Pier, did not choose to sit in someone’s garden nor between parked cars; they chose the decking on which to sit and have a dram.”

“I would never presume to tell anyone what they could or could not do with their garden, certainly not insist that it remain a carpark for the benefit of the other neighbours, citing road safety. 

“We would prefer to create (with Council permission) a safe area that locals and tourists alike can use, benefiting everyone. 

“Like our King, who doesn’t want to sit by the sea of an evening with a drink?”

During the pandemic Mr Dickson made substantial efforts to create outdoor zones for his businesses – though in doing so he was criticised for showing casual regard for local authority planning rules.

In 2020, Mr Dickson took the step of constructing eight greenhouse-type structures at the Portree Hotel, subsuming the existing taxi rank and leaving some local cabbies disgruntled due to the absence of any consultation.

In turn, he argued that it was necessary to keep the hotel’s staff members in employment.

In April 2022, Mr Dickson was refused consent by the local planning committee to make permanent another controversial feature he put up outside the Rosedale, an area of decking which people complained made the public road width too tight for emergency vehicles to get through.

The public have until 4th November to make representations on the application to the planning authority.

Article by Adam Gordon, images by Willie Urquhart.