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Retirement home planning refusal overturned

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Farming
Retirement home planning refusal overturned

COUNCILLORS overturned a planning decision this week which will allow a couple in Moffat to build a retirement home on their farm land.

However, elected members stressed that this was a unique case and would “not set a precedent” for the construction of houses in the countryside.

Mr and Mrs Hutchison, who have operated Chapel Farm for several decades, were disappointed when a planning officer from Dumfries and Galloway Council rejected their proposals to build a property on their land. This would be for their retirement and allow their son to move into the main farmhouse as he takes over the family business.

They launched an appeal and, following a visit to the site by five councillors and two planning officials on Tuesday, the elected members unanimously agreed to quash the original decision and allow the Hutchisons to build the new house.

The committee heard that Mrs Hutchison and her agent John McColl were present as the council delegation walked round the farm site.

One of the main issues the planning case officer originally raised was that the plot for building the house (400m away) was too far a distance from the Chapel Farm steading, and that the development would go against planning policies on housing in the countryside.

Stranraer and the Rhins Councillor Chrissie Hill said: “I thought it was a short walk, 400m or 420m give or take.

“I felt it was close enough to the farm. When you’re working on a farm you’re walking constantly, you’re walking across fields that are probably the length of the same distance.

“So, to me it was like walking across one of their fields to another house.”

She added: “I’m happy to agree to it based on what we saw.”

Nith Councillor John Campbell said: “We have to treat every report on its own merits.

“This is unique to me. In any other circumstances, I’d probably be agreeing with the case officer’s report for refusal.

“Although it’s unique in my mind, I hope this doesn’t mean to say that going forward that this sets a precedent – because it clearly doesn’t in my view.

“We have to treat every application on its own merit – whether it’s through LRB (local review body) or planning – on its own merits.

“I just want to make the point that we’re not setting a precedent here. It’s unique circumstances that have come to this agreement.”

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