Islanders win fight against new contemporary home on Eigg

Residents of Eigg have won a campaign to stop a contemporary home being built on the island.

An 'Airigh' home similar to the one proposed for Eigg. PIC: Heb Homes.

William Lewis, from Johannesburg, South Africa wanted to build the timber and glass structure at Cnoc Mor but 19 residents objected to the plans last year.

A further objection was lodged by Eigg Residents’ Association, which represents all adults on the island.

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Concerns were raised about the “inappropriate” design of the property, which would sit close to the crofting township of Cleadale in a prime location overlooking Laig Bay and the isle of Rum.

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The additional pressure a new house would have on the island’s limited electricity supply was also raised as an issue along with concerns the property was to be used as a holiday home.

Now, the Scottish Government planning reporter has backed Highland Council’s decision to refuse permission for the new home.

The applicant appealed after the local authority blocked his project on the grounds the home was insensitive to the local landscape, both in design and location.

Chris Norman, the planning reporter found the house would be “highly visible” from various public viewpoints, with few trees or changes in the landscape to absorb the impact of the contemporary building on the open site.

Mr Lewis argued that planning permission had already been granted to similar contemporary homes on Eigg, but the reporter said each case had to be judged on its own merits.

The planning reporter added in his report: “I find that the proposed house would be visible from important views of the wider countryside around the crofting township of Cleadale and in particular in the panorama when seen from Bealach Chlithe, the principal approach into the village.

“The contemporary design of the proposed house is at variance with the traditional architectural styles of the majority of other houses in and around Cleadale which is within a national scenic area, so designated because of its nationally important landscape.

“The house in this prominent location is not sensitively sited because the landscape does not have the capacity to accommodate the distinctive contemporary design of the proposal.”

The reporter said he had no evidence that the house, as suggested by some objectors, was to be used as a holiday home and that the issue was not pursued as part of his decision making process.

It is now understood Mr Lewis wanted to relocate to the island on his retirement in a couple of year’s time.

Architects Heb Homes designed the house proposed for Eigg. The house for the Cleadale site is part of its Airigh range, with the design an “extremely modern interpretation” of the Highland shieling.

Alasdair Stephen, director of Heb Homes, said: We don’t agree with it but we respect the decision of the planning reporter

“We can never please everyone and there are some people who don’t want development at all but our view is that development is crucial to the economy. Construction creates jobs and a project like this is an example of how affordable high quality housing can be built in remote areas.”