Owner of holiday let claims objections were 'exaggerated'

An enforcement investigation found that the flat was being used for holiday lets without planning permission.

Owner of North Berwick holiday let at West Bay Apartments claim planning objections were ‘exaggerated’ LDRS

The owners of a flat used as a holiday let for seven years in North Berwick have accused planners of being inconsistent after they refused to grant it planning permission.

East Lothian Council said it came to light the residential two bedroom flat was being used for holiday lets without planning permission during an enforcement investigation at the address.

The owners of the property, who live in West Yorkshire, were told to apply for retrospective planning permission for the change of use which was then refused after council officers said  it was “harmful to the amenity” of other residents.

Now the owners are appealing the decision claiming objections to the application were “exaggerated” and the council had been inconsistent after allowing other similar properties to operate in the same way.

Applicants Peter and Sue Whittle said his family bought the ground floor flat at West Bay Apartments, Station Hill in 2014 after decades of visiting the seaside town on holidays of their own.

In an appeal statement due to go before the council’s local review body next month the couple said the flat was bought as a holiday base for their family and friends.

And they said it was decided to make it available as a holiday let when they were not using it because it would benefit the economy of the town amid claims there was a shortage of holiday accommodation in the town.

They added: “Our research suggested that there was a shortage of holiday accommodation in the town at the time of purchase, and we understand that this remains the case today (as evidenced by the information that our letting agent has been unable to accommodate any of our existing bookings elsewhere)”

Planning officers received 13 objections to the change of use including from North Berwick Community Council and North Berwick Environment and Heritage Trust.

Concerns were raised about the impact of a high turnover of people staying in the flat, a shared communal entrance with one other property and security.

One objector told planners they had been woken in the early hours of the morning by people staying in a short term let, banging on their windows and demanding to be let in after losing their keys.

They said the incident led to mental health issues and the residents waking up and suffering anxiety during the night. However the applicants denied the incident involved visitors staying in their property.

At the time the applicants bought the flat in Westbay Apartments it was sold for just under £250,000.

In their statement of appeal the Whittle say the council’s own economic development policy acknowledges the positive impact holiday lets have.

They added: “We are not the only owners to have purchased an apartment in this block as a holiday home: around half the apartments are not used full-time.

“The permanent residents include some pensioners (like ourselves), but also others including a young family: it is not a retirement complex.”

And they said the decision to refuse permission for the holiday let was based on concern it would lead to more properties being granted a change of use.

They said: “We believe that the specific position and successful letting history of our property has not been appropriately taken into account, and that undue emphasis has been placed on objections that are exaggerated, speculative or irrelevant.”

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