Hutting plan for Merkland Woods is withdrawn

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A bid to reintroduce hutting on the island has been abandoned by Arran Estates, at least for the time being.

A planning application for the siting of 20 huts in Merkland Woods near Corrie has been withdrawn.

Hutting is a term used to describe a traditional style of living which emerged in Scotland between the first and second world wars.

Since then it has fallen out of fashion. However, there has been a revival of interest in the post pandemic world with an upsurge in new hutting communities.

Arran Estates had said three huts would be available for sale on a 25-year lease, costing from £9,704 for a basic hut to £24,515 for a deluxe version. Owners would have owned the hut but not the land.

In a letter of objection to the application, Arran Civic Trust said: ‘This is not going to be the last application for hutting and we think it worth while making the following observations.

‘Applications for hutting projects have caused considerable concern throughout Scotland. Is this really going to be financially viable to allow for proper management of the site?

‘Aberdeenshire Council’s current proposed plan states that the development of huts not associated with a tourist proposal won’t be supported. This is not a tourist proposal, given that the plots will be leased for up to 25 years.

‘One of the problems with this application is who is going to monitor it. It talks about compost toilets and, in the fullness of time, the spreading of the composted waste in the woods, drinking water having to be carried in, no cars unless permission has been given and people using public transport to get there. All of this is is open to abuse. Even the terms of occupancy are wide open to opportunistic advantage taking.

‘This is yet another development on a wild area of Arran which will take away from the scenic beauty of our island.

‘You and your colleagues in the planning department have a huge responsibility to ensure that as much of scenic and unspoilt Arran is preserved and that planning and architecture is carefully considered for everyone’s sake.

‘We rely on people who wish to visit Arran for its beauty and what remains of its serenity,’ the trust statement concluded.

Historically, huts tended not to have running water or electricity and were simple and eco-conscious in design.

Usually they were made from a timber structure and featured a compost toilet and wood burning stove.

These rustic dwellings, sometimes referred to as bothies, cabins or shielings, were often used as temporary shelters for fishermen or those tending to livestock. Today they are seen more as a rural getaway – somewhere to escape the stresses of busy city life.

The structures would have a floor area not exceeding 30 square metres and would be within a site managed under a head lease and where the terms of the sub-leases include a prohibition against permanent residence.

The most famous hut community in Scotland is the Carbeth Hutters which, after a 15-year fight, won the right to buy the land on which their huts were sited.

Arran Estates was asked for a comment but did not respond.