Tiree surfers' beach hut to be removed after council vote

A remote island beach hut that has helped young surfing stars on the road to success is set to be removed after a vote by councillors.

Tiree Surf Club members Marti and Ben Larg and Andrew Robertson outside the beach hut. Picture: Roger Cox

Ben Larg, Scotland’s under-14 surfing champion and Finn MacDonald, the under-18 champion, use the hut as a first aid post and changing room as they train, in all weathers, on Tiree’s Balevullin beach.

But the three metre by four metre hut, which is also used by many other surfers, yesterday failed to get retrospective planning permission from Argyll and Bute Council. It was refused on planning committee chairman David Kinniburgh’s casting vote, after members were split 3-3 on whether it should remain.

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Ben’s parents Marti and Iona Larg, who run their Blackwater Sports surfing business from the hut, have vowed to appeal against the decision that the beach should remain as an undeveloped natural environment.

Mrs Larg said: “We will go to appeal on this because I really think we have got a strong argument. The beach hut is essentially a place of safety for children to carry out this activity.”

Ben and Finn are both tipped to win a place to represent the UK at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mrs Larg said: “Scotland is at the forefront of surfing now and what we have done here has been hugely successful.”

She added: “Tiree has got a declining population, it’s an economically fragile area and this is a successful business – but it’s not being supported.”

Planning officers recommended refusal and said in a report to councillors: “Its very presence on an otherwise undeveloped beach poses a serious issue, as its open and unspoiled character forms a vital part of the area’s local distinctiveness.

“The proposed development is sited upon an otherwise undeveloped and unspoiled beach.”