THE owners of a B-listed mansion in Rhu have lodged an appeal against refusal of their bid to use the property for holiday letting.

The owners of Invergare in Glenarn Road had an application for the 13-bedroom property to be used exclusively as visitor accommodation refused by Argyll and Bute councillors in September.

But a law firm acting for the owners, Mr and Mrs Graham Gardner, has now asked the Scottish Government to overturn the refusal.

The government’s planning and environmental appeals division (DPEA) has announced the appointment of reporter Rob Huntley to consider the appeal.

But Rhu and Shandon Community Council, and residents Albert Barclay and Mike and Sue Thornley, have already written to the DPEA asking for the appeal to be dismissed.

READ MORE: Invergare neighbours hit out at Rhu 'Airbnb party pad' amid complaints of visitors using 'Glastonbury-style sound system' from visitors

The long-running row over Invergare's use for short-term holiday lets was first reported in the Advertiser in January 2020 when neighbours claimed the mansion was being used by up to 20 visitors at a time, some of whom were creating a nuisance and causing distress to neighbours.

A meeting of Rhu and Shandon Community Council in early 2020 heard claims from neighbours of visitors singing sectarian songs at night, souting, swearing and climbing on to parapets at the property, and using a "Glastonbury-style outdoor sound system", which was said to be causing disturbance to people living nearby.

Mr Gardner told the Advertiser at the time that he and his family had "invested a huge amount of our own money restoring this important historic building sympathetically and to a high standard"and said his family was "passionate about Helensburgh, the surrounding area and enjoy the time we spend here with our young family”.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Invergare is a B-listed mansion boasting 13 bedroomsInvergare is a B-listed mansion boasting 13 bedrooms

In May of last year Argyll and Bute Council officials said the use of the property for short-term holiday lets should be refused because it was "out of keeping with the character of the area".

That council report prompted the withdrawal of the original 'change of use' application – and led to Mr Gardner telling the Advertiser that Rhu suffered from "a NIMBY mentality", and said "there are a number of people who have nothing better to do than moan".

A new application to change the use of the property to "exclusive use visitor accommodation" was lodged in July, and again recommended for refusal by officials the following month – and turned down by councillors in September, prompting the owners' appeal to the DPEA.

READ MORE: 'Keep on complaining' over Invergare noise nuisance claims, councillor tells Rhu residents

Background papers submitted with the owners' appeal reveal that an enforcement notice was served on Mr and Mrs Gardner on October 15 alleging an "unauthorised material change of use" of the property.

The owners' solicitors, Anderson Strathern LLP, say the appeal is based on three grounds: that there has not been any change of use in respect of Invergare, that the council's enforcement notice is excessive, and that the council has not allowed the owners enough time to remedy the alleged breach of planning regulations.

In their response to the appeal, Rhu and Shandon Community Council say the argument that there has not been a change of use of the property is "astonishing" and that the use of Invergare for short-term commercial lets has "caused considerable disturbance to its neighbours".

Helensburgh Advertiser: Invergare has been at the centre of noise concerns from neighbours for more than two yearsInvergare has been at the centre of noise concerns from neighbours for more than two years

The community council's appeal response states: "Rhu is a conservation village. People choose to live here because it is quiet and peaceful.

"The use of Invergare for AirBnB holidays/short term commercial lets/residential lets – whatever the owners wish to call them – have shattered that.

"The property creates an offensive noise nuisance and excessive traffic on a road deemed dangerous by Police Scotland and the head of Argyll and Bute Council roads services."

The DPEA has set a target date of Thursday, April 7 for Mr Huntley to reach a decision on the Gardners' appeal.

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