Planning Application 16/01331/PP was submitted to Argyll and Bute Council in May 2016, the second attempt by Yorkshire applicants to build on open land to Loch Craignish, south of the Galley of Lorne Inn in Ardfern.
The Galley of Lorne Inn is, second to the high0-end Ardfern Yacht Marina – and complementary to it, the second most important business in the community sustainability of this beautiful but remote peninsula in Argyll.
The 17th century drover’s inn has long been important to this place – offering hospitality, sanctuary, and food for body and soul, in its breathtaking location on the shores of Loch Craignish.
Its market strength depends on what its location offers to diners in its glorious restaurant above the water and to weddings and special events with the restaurant and the large viewing deck looking south straight down the loch.
The planning application is for a ‘one and three quarter’ storey house over 5 meters high, on a rhomboid shaped site on the east side of the entire plot of ground south of the Galley, all owned by the applicants.
The house for which consent is sought could not be closer to the Galley nor, in its position, more damaging to its specific business.
Diners in the Restaurant / Function Room will be looking straight into the building; and wedding parties for photographs on the viewing deck [pictured above] will be no more than 16 feet from it.
The Galley of Lorne Inn supports local employment and brings people to Ardfern. It supports local lifestyles as well as those of visitors with its facilities, which include a children’s garden and a beer garden. It facilitates local events in the accommodation and catering it offers. It runs a summer long music festival each year – the Galley Gig Festival. It is an enterprising business in which the owner has made continual investment.
It’s glorious restaurant/function room is the heart of what it has to offer and is the key to its commercial survival in its regular hosting of wedding receptions.
Without The Galley of Lorne Inn, Ardfern would be a less visited place. As a markedly well heeled area, this might be a survivable situation for a large proportion of its residents, However, without its employment opportunities and its facilities, the loss of the Galley would progressively make Ardfern impossible for the fewer residents in the modest amount of local social housing.
Places that become exclusive compounds of the wealthy are to the advantage of no one. They exclude from attractive places those who are not well off; and they exclude the well off from the variety of life, which is not singular.
In every way and for everyone in the community, The Galley of Lorne Inn is a vital support fo lifestyles and for other local businesses.
The potential threat to its commercial survivability from the proposed house is very real. If The Galley is lost, the community may well have a couple more local residents but no convivial meeting and eating place – and the unique charms of The Galley rest upon its location, surroundings and views.
There is a secondary fear that if this application is consented, effectively putting the commercial future of The Galley at genuine risk, it may be followed by a second application for a second house.
The previous unsuccessful planning application from the owners of the ground south of The Galley was for two dwelling houses. If this current application is consented and The Galley’s business undermined, there is little then to stop consent for a second application.
The community rightly opposes the application.
Craignish Community Council, at a recent meeting, registered opposition to the application and has written to Argyll and Bute Council expressing its views.
While this support is encouraging for the owner of The Galley, the stress of the potential loss of the business in repeated aggressive varieties of planning application must take its toll – alongside the day to day responsibilities of running that business well.
Alongside the stress will be the brake on any further investment in enhancement plans for The Galley until the nature of its future is clear.
With Argyll and Bute’s ageing population and flatlining economy, it will be interesting to see the criteria used by the planners at Argyll and Bute Council and the councillors who are, under advice, the decision taking members of what is universally regarded as the most significant local authority committee.