Fashion designer Stella McCartney faces resistance to Scottish Highland home plan over access to 'secret beach'
Fashion designer Stella McCartney is facing resistance over plans to build a contemporary family home overlooking a Highland loch amid questions over access to a stretch of beach and the felling of Scots fir trees to make way for the property.
Ms McCartney – the daughter of Beatles musician Paul – and her husband Alasdhair Willis hope to build the getaway at Commando Rock overlooking Roshven Bay on Loch Ailort in Lochaber. They have lodged plans for an “unashamedly contemporary, yet complimentary” addition to the area, with the split-level property to be built from stone, concrete, steel and reflective glass.
A design statement for the proposed property, said: “The site is obviously of an extremely high standard, both in terms of settings and views. Privacy is of prime import to the applicant, which was a chief reason they acquired the site.
"The secluded nature of the site would be retained, with the house being largely unseen outwith the site, and primarily only visible from the water. The client is seeking to create a contemporary house on the site, influenced by the existing topography, but which is designed to create a contemporary intervention in the landscape, which it would respect, and be inspired by.”
Around 60 public comments have been lodged with Highland Council planners over the proposals. The majority of them object to the scale and style of the property and its impact on views and the experience of a peaceful bay. A few letters of support for the design have also been received.
Public access to a stretch of beach beneath the site, known locally as Sandy Bay or Secret Beach, has been raised as a particular concern. Plans to fell five out of 15 Scots pine trees have also been met with objection from both forestry officials and residents.
In a response to planners, a statement from Highland Council’s access officer said: “One sales description for this area called it a ‘private peninsula’, while the design statement for this application makes mention of privacy as well as the 'private' track.
“This stated, claimed and possibly perceived privacy is contradicted by a history of public access in and around this peninsula along existing tracks and by, as far as the application is concerned, an unmapped path to the beach east of the site. The area described in the property's title is nearly 9 hectares. A 'rough path' is described SSW of the site in some of the submitted drawings.
“There is an access point to water here which was once mapped and which may fall into the red line boundary of the application. The accent on privacy in the sales details and the application suggests that there is a risk that, without identifying the extent of the area they believe is required to allow them to enjoy the house, the applicant may mistakenly believe that the privacy area of the proposed development will extend to the limit of the land owned by them along with the length of the 'private' track. That is a significant area over which wider access rights apply.”
The application has yet to be scheduled for committee.
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