‘Tiny’ holiday home near Hawick rejected despite support

Several businesses and individuals also submitted messages of support over plans Tiny Homes Borders had submitted to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) for a single holiday accommodation ‘Shepherd Hut’ incorporating decking, sauna, access and associated works on agricultural land west of Billerwell Farm at Bonchester Bridge.

In his letter of support, David Hope-Jones, chief executive of South of Scotland Destination Alliance, said: “Tiny Home Borders is a valued and high-profile part of the south of Scotland’s visitor economy.

“The existing property is very well-known and well-respected. It was nominated for a South of Scotland Thistle Award and has hosted a visit of the Scottish Government’s tourism minister.

“It is valuable case study and provides a helpful model others can learn from. It also has remarkably high occupancy rates and, I believe, is a stand-out example of how to develop a quality proposition in a rural setting.

“Key to this quality, is the sense of isolation offered. Visitors feel they have their own private space, with woodland and a recreational pond. This commands a comparably high price-point and is clearly offering what visitors want.

“It offers quality accommodation and brings higher-spending visitors into the region, to the benefit of local businesses and communities.”

But SBC assistant planning officer Stuart Small described the proposed development as “harmful to the rural character of the area”, saying: “It is accepted that there are few opportunities for views to the site from the public road. It is also acknowledged that the proposal is deliberately chosen to be in an isolated spot to capitalise on the success of the existing Shepherd Hut.

“However, the consequent expansion of the tourism business at this location is considered to be harmful to the rural character of the area since it would sporadically erode the undeveloped landscape.

“The additional tourism generation from the business is not sufficient enough reason for this development to be unnecessarily detached and the need for an isolated site to recreate the tranquil setting of the existing Shepherd Hut is not in itself reasonable justification in planning terms either.”