THE Hill House is set to open its vehicle garage to the public for the first time as an information area for tourists.

Permission was given by Argyll and Bute Council planning chiefs last week for the garage to be used for visitor access while renovation work takes place.

The museum, which allows visitors to view a range of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s artwork, is set for an extensive revamp which includes a ‘giant cage’ being built around it.

Experimental material used in the building of the house in 1902 allowed water to soak into the building, meaning the improvement works were needed.

A handling report by the council’s planning officer Howard Young said: “The applicant seeks permission for a change of use from garage to temporary visitor information area at the Hill House, Helensburgh.

“The dwellinghouse and garage are Category A listed, the surrounding area is established residential and the wider area located within the Upper Helensburgh Conservation Area.

“It is proposed to allow visitor access into the original vehicle garage during restoration/renovation works to the Hill House.

“The garage has not previously been open to the public and will require no internal or external alterations to facilitate this new use. It is considered that the use will have no impact upon the setting of the listed building.

“The development will be visible within the Conservation Area as the double garage doors will be open, however overall footfall will be reduced during refurbishment works.

“The impacts upon residential amenity will be neutral and the character of the Conservation Area will therefore be preserved.

“Off street parking will be retained via the public car park.

“The use will allow visitors access to information and progress of the renovations and will have no impact upon the fabric of the Listed Building and setting of the Conservation Area.”

The National Trust for Scotland had to apply for listed building consent as well as planning permission to use the garage as a visitor information area. This too was granted.