Councillors Pass Plans For Low Cost Accommodation

Longstone Heritage Centre

Councillors have approved new, affordable accommodation for school and environmental group parties at the former Longstone Heritage Centre. It’s similar to an application, which was passed in 2005 but never developed.

A single-storey bunkhouse or youth hostel for up to 20 beds will be built on the current Longstone Centre footprint. There’ll also be 4-bed accommodation for staff and group leaders.

Chief Planner, Craig Dryden said this was a modest development. The demolition and replacement of the current buildings would be acceptable and lead to increased energy efficiency.

The café there hasn’t traded recently and Craig felt the plan would help sustain the business, although the number of covers would be reduced from 55 to 45.

Longstone Farm tenant and neighbour Alison Guy welcomed the general plan but voiced some concerns. She wanted the property restricted to educational use only.

Council planners agreed to limit the lettings to 28 days per person within a calendar year to prevent long-term residents. The separate worker accommodation units will have restrictions placed on them so they cannot be sold off separately

Mrs Guy was concerned about noise, as the plans were not clear about whether anyone living on the premises would oversee sound levels or security.

The applicant says the owner will live in and won’t want noise either, although Cllr Richard McCarthy said the report contained some contradictions about this and he wanted more information about the owner’s plans.

Alison also wrote with concerns that the lower-cost accommodation could affect usage of Pelistry and the new Peninnis camping facilities.

She felt the track should be widened as it can’t be used by anything other than farm vehicles and her farmyard isn’t an option. But the applicant replied saying that visitors would not have their own vehicles and a sign will state that there’ll be no vehicle access. Taxis will drop off down the road and residents can walk up the lane.

Mrs Guy says there are bats at her Longstone Farm and she wanted a bat survey at the Heritage Centre before the development took place. Chief Planning Officer Craig Dryden said they had been found and that issue would need addressing before building commences.

Most members backed the application but the Council chairman didn’t approve the bunkhouse plan. Mike Hicks said he couldn’t support this low cost accommodation when the islands were trying to offer higher quality places to stay.