A BORDERS couple have won their planning battle with the local council over whether their home is a residence or a B&B.

Tom and Sarah Watters, owners of the old Glenacre guesthouse off the A68 at Camptown, near Jedburgh, applied to Scottish Borders Council for a certificate of lawful use earlier this year as they claim the property has been used solely as a family home for the last four years. 

However, council planners turned down that request as they say there is evidence the property has been used as a guest house since 2014.

The Watters subsequently appealed to the Scottish Government’s planning and environment appeals department (DPEA), and asked them to overrule the the council’s rejection. 

An appeal statement, lodged by Peebles-based planning consultant Ericht, reads: “There has been no use as a guesthouse since the end of December 2013 and there has been no enforcement action taken by Scottish Borders Council in the period.

“The use of the property known as Glenacre as a dwelling house is lawful.

“No enforcement action may be taken in respect of the failure to comply because the four-year time period for enforcement action to be taken has expired.”

One of the council’s main points of contention is that the Watters have submitted tax returns listing Glenacres as a B&B business over the last few years, but the couple insist that was down to an administrative error.

“Despite the administrative mistake made by the accountant, there is nothing in the tax returns submitted to the council to indicate that Glenacre was being operated as a B&B during any of the period in which the planning authority asserts it to have been,” they say. 

“There is no logic in the officers’ conclusion that the tax returns show an operating B&B business. They simply do not.

“An incorrect and unreasonable interpretation appears to have been made.”

Council planning officials also point out that a website promoting Glenacre as a B&B was accessible within the last four years and that signage advertising the location of the B&B was still present during a 2016 visit by officers. 

The council’s statement to the Holyrood department reads: “Photos taken 956 days after the date on which the appellant claims to have ceased trading as a B&B show that the property was furnished with signage on the road and gable of the property advertising the business and its VisitScotland accreditation, together with signposting for customer parking, which would suggest that a B&B business was operating at that date.

“As a result of that signage, the officer had no reason to believe that the property was operating as anything but a B&B.”

Despite this, the DPEA reporter Richard Hickman has sided with the Watters, saying that simple administrative errors do not mean the B&B was functional. 

His decision notice reads: “When read in detail and then considered overall, I am satisfied that the submitted documents provide a comprehensive and consistent set of evidence that the B&B/guest house use ceased at the end of 2013. 

“The apparent exceptions are the tax returns and the signage retained at the property. 

“However it is clear from the actual tax returns that no income was recorded for B&B/guest house operations at Glenacre from 2014-2015 onwards. 

“The property is located on a very minor side road which loops back to the main road, and hence does not carry through traffic. 

“I therefore agree with the appellants that the amount of non-local traffic passing the property is minimal, and that the remaining sign would have minimal value in either attracting or guiding potential guest house customers once the two signs on the main road had been removed. 

“In addition, I accept the appellants’ explanation as to why they did not take down or amend the information presented on the Glenacre website.”