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EXCLUSIVE: Scottish Ministers give go-ahead for short-term let control area in Badenoch and Strathspey

By Tom Ramage

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Badenoch and Strathspey is set to become only the second part of Scotland to have a control zone for short-term lets.

Scottish Ministers have approved the move which will cover the whole of the strath and require STL operators to make a planning application for a change of use in order to continue their letting business or start a new one.

A similar such control area was approved for Edinburgh in the Autumn.

The government said that in making the approval for the strath they had considered the views of Airbnb who had responded to the public consultation.

Jane Shepherd: the Town Planner has been advising business on short-term licensing for months.
Jane Shepherd: the Town Planner has been advising business on short-term licensing for months.

Local Highland councillors instigated the move because of the affordable housing crisis in the strath but tourism leaders have claimed the new rules will do little to solve the lack of accommodation for local people and hit the local economy.

The local authority last week set out its proposed policy for how the STL control area will be implemented.

Holyrood's Planning, Architecture and Regeneration Division has now confirmed in writing to the council that the move has been approved.

The officials state: "Scottish Ministers have carefully considered all the evidence presented to them including the council’s Statement of Reasons for the designation and the relevant committee and council meeting reports and minutes."

Ministers considered that the requirements to allow the go-ahead had all been satisfied by the local authority.

Officials state: "The planning authority proposes to designate the control area in order to manage high concentrations of short term lets across the ward, ensure homes and land are used to best effect, and control secondary letting of dwellinghouses to protect neighbouring residential amenity.

"Ministers consider that these are valid reasons to propose the designation, and conclude that the proposed designation would be justified and reasonable."

They also revealed: "Following the submission of the council’s request to Ministers, further correspondence has been received from Shepherd & Wedderburn on behalf of Airbnb.

"Ministers have taken this correspondence into account in this decision on the proposed designation.

"The correspondence does not alter Ministers’ view that the proposed designation of the STLCA is justified and reasonable."

Before designating the short-term let control area, the council will have to publish a formal notice.

Highland Council is currently setting up a licensing scheme for short term lets which is separate to the control zone to be created for the entire strath.

Grantown-based award-winning planning consultant Jane Shepherd, who runs TheTownPlanner, has been advising local businesses on the issue all year.

She told the Strathy: “It is very important to distinguish the difference between planning and licensing requirements for short-term lets.

“As well as having to obtain licences, this means owners will have to regularise the planning status of their short-term let properties too.

“Once the council adopts the designation, short-term let owners should prepare their applications at the earliest opportunity.”

See tomorrow's Strathy for more local reaction.

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