Scilly’s Planners Shouldn’t Discourage More Holiday Accommodation Says Councillor

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

The Council’s Planning Committee shouldn’t discourage people who want to invest in new holiday accommodation on the islands.

That was the view expressed by Cllr Robert Dorrien Smith during the recent Planning meeting, where a number of applications to convert buildings to tourism use were heard.

Planning officers had recommended refusing an application by the owners of Jedi at McFarlands Down to convert their garage into a one-bedroom holiday let.

Senior Manager for Planning, Craig Dryden, said the conversion wouldn’t improve the quality of the tourist accommodation on the islands or contribute to diversification of the economy.

But Cllr Dorrien Smith said they needed to “approach this with caution.”

He said the islands had lost 247 bed spaces over the past few years, many through the loss of guesthouses and hotels.

He felt they should encourage better use of the buildings available. And he said that if someone was willing to invest and improve it, the Council shouldn’t be sending out the wrong messages.

He felt planners should approve the scheme but work with the applicant to achieve “the best possible quality.”

Councillors voted to accept the application.

They also passed a request to remove an old planning condition on two self-catering flats at Prospect House in Well Lane. That means the properties can be occupied year-round.

Council Chairman Amanda Martin said she was “very worried” about voting for too many properties to go onto the holiday market.

She wanted to ensure there was accommodation coming back into the residential market.

In a similar request, the owners of Silver Carn on Town Lane wanted to modify a section 106 obligation on their annexe, which restricts use to family and non-paying guests.

Planners had recommended approval, but only if the option to use it as a holiday let was refused.

That means it could only be used for key workers and local needs accommodation.

Cllr Avril Mumford felt they couldn’t refuse this application after approving similar ones earlier in the meeting.

And Craig Dryden admitted that needed to be consistent in their decision-making.

But councillors voted in the end to allow the change, without approval to use the accommodation for tourists.

Cllr Dorrien Smith said he felt it was “an unsatisfactory process” and that the applicant “wouldn’t be terribly happy about this.”

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