22nd September 2018
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Stuart Hill is left reeling after boat shed pulled down

A boat shed being built by former parliamentary candidate Stuart Hill has been dismantled by the local pier trust – sparking complaints of heavy-handedness.

The shed was pulled down while Mr Hill was away in Orkney for the election count.

He was building it to protect his boat, the 35-feet long Gazelle, so he could work on her and make the vessel seaworthy.

But now she has been left open to the elements after Mr Hill failed to get planning permission.

He has this week vented his frustration at planning officials over the way they have handled the case and said the Aithsvoe Pier Trust had acted because trustees were scared of getting into trouble.

The 74-year-old, from Ocraquoy, Cunningsburgh, argued he did not need planning consent because the shed at Aithsvoe Pier, Cunningsburgh, was a temporary building. But planners gave him a deadline to apply.

When his time expired, the Aithsvoe Pier Trust told him if he did not knock it down they would do it themselves.

But that was despite last minute protestations from Mr Hill that happened when he travelled south to learn the election result.

Stuart Hill says council planners failed to give proper reason. Photo: John Robertson

The shed was built on land owned by the pier trust and The Shetland Times understands trustees feared that without planning permission they would be responsible if anything went wrong with it.

But Mr Hill says he has been left in an “impossible position”.

“The boat is not seaworthy, so I can’t move it, but I can’t do the repairs without shelter,” said Mr Hill.

He said: “My real beef is with the planning department because they will not give me any reason why I need planning permission.

“I wrote to them and said ‘what do I need to do to comply and can you show me the legislation?’

“They sent me retrospective planning forms and a reference to the guidance.”

He said that included a list of structures that did not need permission.

“It seemed to me that the shelter I was proposing to put over the boat is included in that list,” said Mr Hill.

“So I got back and said, ‘it seems I don’t need planning permission’. But they said ‘we don’t want to talk to you anymore. We’ll go to the pier trust – they’re the landlord – we’ll go after them instead’.

“The pier trust were scared they were going to be in trouble with the planning people.

“I wrote to them to say please don’t do anything until after the election when I get back from Orkney.

“But I got back and saw the structure had gone. They just acted on their own initiative.”

Trustee of Aithsvoe Pier Trust, Charlie Simpson said: “Last year we allowed Stuart to put a cover over the boat and what appeared was quite a substantial building.

“We then decided to check with planning to see whether that needed planning permission because it was not just a tent or tarpaulin – it was roughly 8 x 10 metres square.

“In February we got confirmation from the planners that it needed planning permission and a building warrant. So we told Stuart that.

“We reminded him that we were responsible for the pier so if there was no action taken then there could be action against the trust.

“The planning deadline was the end of April. In May the trust gave him one month to take it down.

“In early June, the structure was still there so the trust dismantled it.”

Head of planning Ian McDiarmid said: “The unauthorised building has been removed and that’s the end of the case. If Mr Hill is unhappy he can follow the normal complaints procedure.”

About Andrew McQuarrie

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