Scilly To Get Its First Yurt

Example of 'yurt' style accommodation

Example of ‘yurt’ style accommodation

Scilly is likely to get its first ‘yurt’ holiday accommodation this season.

Approval was granted yesterday for the temporary structure, a large 5m round tent made of canvas with an oak frame, to be erected in a field on St Martin’s, owned by local farmer Jonathon Smith.

Jonathon told planners that the yurt will help him diversify and sustain his organic vegetable business and says the eco-friendly accommodation is entirely in keeping with the green credentials of the farm.

In addition to the yurt, two wooden structures will also be put up to house a composting toilet and a solar-powered shower. Fresh water would come from a nearby borehole.

Planning officer, Harriet Bowen, recommended that permission should be granted, although the effect on a nearby Special Area of Conservation would need to be assessed, she said.

However, St Martin’s councillor, Christine Savill was critical of the scheme.

She had reservations about the cumulative impact of all the recent approvals on the site, including a solar panel array, a poly tunnel and a glasshouse.

She also felt that as a new form of accommodation was being introduced, the economic development officer should be consulted.

Cllr Savill wanted to know what trenching would be needed to reach the borehole, if there were any public health regulations for a composting toilet and where ‘grey’ washing water be disposed of.

Harriet said no trenching was proposed and there were no regulations on composting toilets. A soakaway was being proposed to deal with washing water.

And Harriet said the structure is temporary, used only during tourist season, and other structures approved for the site are temporary too, so should not have a long-term effect on the area.

Cllr Fred Ticehurst said it was “a bit gimmicky” and was “nothing more than a pre-World War One bell tent.” He said he couldn’t see why it was being called “high quality accommodation” before being stopped by Planning chairman Gaz O’Neil, who told him that this was something dictated by market forces and not relevant to the planning application.

But Cllr Marian Bennett was supportive. She felt it fitted well with the strategy defined in the Blue Sail report and also with the type of visitor the islands are looking to attract, who enjoy “getting back to nature.”

And Marian said this type of cheaper accommodation offered an alternative way for small businesses to invest, rather than the “well regarded” but expensive type of accommodation seen on Tresco.

Gordon Bilsborough said he couldn’t see any reason why approval shouldn’t be granted and councillors eventually voted in favour of the scheme, although they’ll review the impact after the first season.


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