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Distillery owners seeking to extend hours

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Distillery owners seeking to extend hours

OWNERS of a distillery which opened just two years ago in Moffat are seeking permission from Dumfries and Galloway Council to extend their opening times so that the business can continue to grow.

Dark Sky Spirits founders Nick and Erin Bullard kickstarted The Moffat Distillery in 2022 on a 17-acre site on the edge of the town.

It produces The Moffat blended malt whisky – along with gin and liqueurs – and also offers distillery tours to visitors.

The opening hours for the facility are currently 10 am-5 pm Monday-Saturday, and 12-4 pm on Sundays.

The entrepreneurial couple were disappointed when their initial bid to amend their planning consent and opening hours was rejected by Dumfries and Galloway Council’s planning department.

So they have now submitted an appeal to the council’s local review body – and it will be considered by councillors next week.

Their appeal statement, submitted by Moffat-based agents RF Design, wrote: “The specific aim of the amended opening hours is for the Moffat Distillery to have the ability and option to open when an event, or business need arises within the amended permitted opening hours.

“It is not the intention of Moffat Distillery to open ‘each and every’ hour any amended opening hours would allow.

“Moffat Distillery recognise the location of the premises and their proximity to neighbouring residential properties. Therefore, it is for this reason that they aim to ensure respectful opening hours but maintaining the ability to open later (within the permitted hours) when the business justification is met.

“Moffat Distillery is already an award winning spirit distiller, however a small, start-up distillery’s lifeblood is its visitors.

“Whisky takes many years to mature, so tours and tastings are the path to success whilst promoting Moffat and the wider region in a positive manner.

“The need to urgently extend the daily visitor opening hours is evident.”

The distillery owners want to have flexibility so that they “have the ability and option to offer” teas, coffees and light refreshments, business breakfasts, corporate meetings, seminars, networking events, as well as nature walks and dark sky walks around the facility grounds.

Council planning case officer Claire Eckstein is still recommending that planning permission is refused.

She stated in her report: “The proposal would allow public visitors (and with them, increased traffic, noise and activity) for 75 per cent longer than currently exists under 2019 permission and late into the evening, and this would materially change the nature of the development for surrounding residents.

“It is also considered that these increased opening hours will change the nature of the development and function of the building.”

Councillors will make the final decision at next Thursday’s meeting.

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