A FORMER auction mart site in Thornhill which lay derelict for more than 20 years will be converted into stables the public can use.
Businesswoman Sharon Tait has taken over the former auction mart and has begun work transforming the site into commercial livery stables, featuring an outdoor riding area, flood lights and car park.
Despite opposition from 12 nearby residents, she was granted retrospective planning permission last week by Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Addressing members of the council’s planning committee, Mrs Tait said: “It was my lifelong dream and retirement business venture to build a livery yard comprising of stables and an outdoor riding arena.
“The land in question is the eight-acre old market, which was derelict for over 20 years, and the new shed has been built on an identical footprint of the shed that stood for in excess of 50 years before it fell into disrepair.
“I’ve been the only person brave enough to take on this mammoth project, including turning a derelict building and eyesore into a sustainable development for use by both my family and the wider community.
“I’m hoping it will enhance local employability and in the short term I hope to recruit at least one member of staff.
“I also have local businesses identified for feeding supply and repairs.”
She added: “My proposed business will afford local children within the village of Thornhill the opportunity to own a pony and develop a number of life skills.
“I’ve recently completed a diploma in equine management to allow me to have the theoretical skills to allow the yard to run to its full potential.
“This would be the only livery yard available to hire in the area, with others being located in Sanquhar and Dumfries.”
Local residents, whose properties overlook the site, submitted letters of objection which were read out at the planning committee.
Resident Greg Parker wrote: “As residents, we have no problem with stables – but you can help by making this unacceptable plan more acceptable.”
He complained the new stables building is higher and wider than the previous one, which had fallen into disrepair and was demolished.
Mr Parker also insisted that proper screening with trees and a landscaping and maintenance plan should be required.
The applicant stated she had bought 600 trees for screening, 200 of which have already been planted, along with hedging. She also vowed to consult with a lighting specialist to ensure “minimal light spill” for neighbouring properties.
Councillors unanimously approved the bid, subject to conditions, which included ensuring that off-street parking and turning areas have been formed before the stables business begins operating.