A LUXURY castle near Helensburgh at the centre of a row over its use as a “party pad” should no longer be used for that purpose, according to officials.

The owners of the 13-bedroom Invergare House in Rhu have asked Argyll and Bute Council for permission for a ‘change of use’ for the property to allow it to be used for short-term lets.

The application is for retrospective permission, since the building’s use for holiday lets is understood to date back to 2019.

Neighbours of the B-listed property in Glenarn Road told the Advertiser in January 2020 that the building had been turned into a “party pad” for groups of up to 20 people at a time – and that anti-social behaviour by some of those people, combined with the use of a "very loud, Glastonbury-style" sound system, was making their lives a misery.

They claimed some guests were climbing on to parapets at the property, singing sectarian songs, shouting and swearing.

And a council official has now said the owners’ application should be refused because the property's use as a short-term holiday let is “out of keeping with the character of the area”.

READ MORE: Invergare neighbours hit out at Rhu Airbnb 'party pad' amid claims of guests' anti-social behaviour

There are also concerns about the flow of traffic.

The plans will be discussed by members of the council’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 19.

Invergare is currently listed on Airbnb as available for bookings of groups of up to 16 people at a time.

In January 2020, a neighbour of the property, Derek Hall, told the Advertiser: “It is not unusual for them to have a very loud, Glastonbury-style outdoor sound system with music that can go on until two or three in the morning.

“Within the last year we have called police on 12 separate occasions to try and quieten them down but it does not seem to do any good.”

The month after the Advertiser reported neighbours’ concerns, Helensburgh police inspector Roddy Macneill told members of Rhu and Shandon Community Council that Invergare was “definitely on our radar”.

READ MORE: Airbnb mansion in Rhu 'still on radar' of Helensburgh police, residents told

In a handling report, the council planning officer dealing with the case said that the maximum number of people for any letting as a single unit would be limited to 24.

The officer said: “Vehicular access to the site entrance from Gareloch Road is via the southern end of Pier Road turning into the residential cul-de-sac of Glenarn Road.

“A gateway at the end of the latter road gives access onto the application site from which point a private driveway continues to a parking area adjacent to the house. Several houses are accessed off of this private driveway in addition to Invergare House.

“The house has been used periodically over the last couple of years for short term letting. It appears that the property is not currently being used for short-term letting.

“This application seeks retrospective planning permission for a change of use from a single dwelling house, falling within Class 9 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997, to sui-generis use to allow short-term letting.

“It is considered that the proposed use will be out of keeping with the established residential character of the local area to the significant detriment to residential amenities of local residents by reason of undue intensification of activity; increased level and nature of noise; general disturbance; and the pattern, nature and volume of vehicular traffic all resultant from the proposed use.”

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The officer also said that due to narrow carriageway widths without footways, sub-standard access junctions, and traffic speeds, the property did not have the technical capacity to serve the vehicle movements generated by the plans safely and to still allow traffic to flow freely.

They added: “A feature of this part of the Rhu Conservation Area is considered to be a peaceful character and low intensity of activity, appropriate to the uniformly residential land use and spacious pattern of built development.

“Whilst the proposal will not increase density of built development, the significant change in terms of intensification of activity and traffic movements will not enhance or protect the character or appearance of the Conservation Area.”

At the time the Advertiser reported neighbours' concerns, Graham Gardner, the owner of the property, said: “As far as we are aware, there has not been any anti-social behaviour beyond guests talking on the patio late at night. The police were asked to attend and fed back to us there was nothing of concern.

“We do ask our guests to respect our neighbours, keep noise outside to a minimum after 10pm and if we are made aware of any anti-social behaviour we would quickly resolve it.

“It’s important to note that we don’t allow stag or hen parties, as we prefer family gatherings.”

More in next week's Advertiser.

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