ANGRY Rhu residents say anti-social guests at a holiday let castle in the village are continuing to make their lives a misery – and have pleaded for a new planning application for the building to be rejected.

Neighbours of Invergare Castle in Glenarn Road have reacted with scepticism to news that the property’s owners plan to screen prospective guests before accepting bookings – and to rate them afterwards.

A new application to Argyll and Bute Council seeks retrospective permission for a change of use at Invergare, from residential to visitor accommodation.

A previous application was lodged earlier in 2021, but was withdrawn after a local authority official recommended refusal shortly before it was due to be considered by councillors.

That prompted the house’s owner, Graham Gardner, to hit out at a “NIMBY [not in my back yard] mentality” in the village.

One concerned resident, who has lived nearby the property for more than a decade, told the Advertiser he was “shocked and taken aback” by the “raucous” behaviour of a group of guests last week, with reports of revellers drinking through the night, some of whom were “on the apex of the roof”.

READ MORE: Luxury Rhu mansion owners lodge new planning application – and say guests could be rated afterwards

Police are believed to have been called out twice in the past week, and three times in total last month.

The resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We all got a real fright the other night at the shrieks that came out just after 3am.

“Some of the language used was making my toes curl, and we thought there were folk in our garden.

“Rhu is very quiet, you can hear a pin drop in the area, so noise does travel and especially when it’s 14 or 15 people outside who have had a drink.

“We would like to see this activity stopped. It is entirely unacceptable.

“The last two years have shown that the unsupervised letting of this property, which is being proposed and which is already taking place, is a blight on the community.

“I can’t see how the proposal has any merit at all, it doesn’t support the community.”

READ MORE: Rhu castle owner slams 'NIMBY mentality' in village as Airbnb plans are withdrawn

Last week the Advertiser shared news of the latest planning application for Invergare in which the property’s owner pledged stag and hen parties would no longer be accepted, and vowed to screen potential guests before confirming bookings, and to review them after their stay.

“If that is his screening then it is not working,” one resident said.

“The ‘good neighbour agreement’ and the promise to rate guests is just another smokescreen from the owners.

“One thing that lockdown did do was put a temporary halt to this situation, but it is back with a vengeance.

“We will continue to put our arguments together and try to convince the planning department that approval would be entirely inappropriate.

“I don’t know of any neighbours in the locus that are happy about the situation. Everyone is really concerned.

“If we let this go through without proper objection this will open the floodgates. Where will it end? Should we just open up all of Rhu to Airbnb?”

READ MORE: Holiday lets 'should be banned' at castle near Helensburgh over neighbour nuisance, say council officials

Police in Helensburgh confirmed to the Advertiser that they received calls to attend at the house last week, and that those present were asked to quieten down.

Jim Duncan, the convener of Rhu and Shandon Community Council (RSCC), said: “Rhu and Shandon Community Council has been aware of the problems that Invergare has been causing to neighbours and the wider community for some time.

“We have had meetings with and supported local residents who have provided details of the anti-social activities and nuisance which regularly occur at Invergare when it is hired out to short term renters by the absentee owner.

“This is an increasing problem in our community as more large properties are being hired out for short term lets by absentee owners.

“On behalf of the community, RSCC has made representations to Argyll and Bute Council which were instrumental in bringing about the enforcement order by Argyll & Bute Council against the owners of Invergare.

“In support of the local community RSCC objected to the previous planning application for a change of use at Invergare.

READ MORE: Airbnb mansion in Rhu 'still on our radar', say Helensburgh police

“Planners had recommended to the council's planning, protective services and licensing committee that permission should be refused and that application was subsequently withdrawn by the applicant.

“We see no changes to this latest application that would remove the nuisance and disruption to the local neighbourhood and RSCC will continue to support neighbouring residents by objecting to this latest planning application for a change of use.

“We trust that planning officers will come to the same conclusion on this application as they did on the previous one, and recommend that this one is refused.”

Mr Gardner told the Advertiser: “Unfortunately the neighbours saw the need to call the police recently. Given how stretched the police are we would prefer [neighbours] would contact us directly.

"I gather from speaking to the police the call related to four people outside talking.

READ MORE: Invergare neighbours hit out at Airbnb 'party pad' over 'anti-social behaviour' by guests

“We have no interest in letting out our beautiful home to groups who are drunken and destructive and take steps to avoid this.

“We are happy to engage with the council and discuss further steps and compromises that can be taken.

"We are continually looking to improve the experience for guests and our neighbours, we consistently ask each guest to be respectful of our neighbours.

“These old buildings are very expensive to maintain and there needs to be a way to preserve them for future generations.

“The alternatives are it goes to ruin – you will remember it was in a very poor state of repair – or it is converted to flats, sacrificing most of the original features which are of historical and architectural significance.”

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