Derry Lodge to become a 'Mountain Hostel'?
The National Trust for Scotland has submitted a planning application to the Cairngorms National Park Authority for Derry Lodge to be refurbished as a staffed mountain hostel. The proposal is seen as addressing two problems. Firstly, what to do with a listed building which is which is slowly deteriorating. Secondly, the growth of camping in the area is leading to a fire risk, anti-social behaviour and problems of human waste. The plans include a toilet accessible to the public. It is suggested that the hostel could provide an alternative to camping for some and that staff could have a role in reducing problems in the vicinity. It is proposed that only pre-booking would be allowed and that those using the hostel would have to access it on foot or by pony.
NEMT missed the application determination deadline but, as we had decided not to object the proposal, this was not problematic. The following comments were submitted to the Park and to the Manager at Mar Lodge:
- NEMT supports the proposed change of use of Derry Lodge to a staffed mountain hostel.
- It is a listed building of considerable historical interest and saving it from dereliction by modernising it for use by the public is to be welcomed. There are significant risks in that it is not possible to gauge what the impact will be on the core mountain areas and there may be unintended consequences. In addition, the NTS's approach to management of the facility itself will need to be flexible to deal with problems as they emerge.
- The plans for the building incorporate state of the art renewable energy systems and this approach is welcomed.
- NEMT supports the proposal to allow only pre-booking as this will reduce the number of people being turned away with nowhere else to go. It will be important to have notices at the Linn of Dee car park and at the gate to the Derry road stating that people cannot access the hostel without pre-booking. Would a phone by these notices be worth considering or a phone number on these notices for the booking system as most people will have mobiles? In addition, it may be worth having notices in Glenmore.
- NEMT strongly supports the proposal that people should only access the Lodge on foot or by pony. We think that this should be made a condition of planning consent. The 'long walk-in' should continue to be encouraged to protect the core areas of the Cairngorms. NEMT is surprised that the question of mountain bikes seems to have been ignored. Does the NTS want to discourage access by bike? If so, this may be difficult to achieve.
- With regard to motorised traffic on the Derry Road, NEMT thinks that it is essential that the NTS plans the servicing of the hostel in a way which keeps additional vehicles on the road to an absolute minimum.
- We agree with the hope/expectation that the presence of the hostel will reduce some of the current problems related to camping in the area. Some assessment of the impact of the hostel on numbers camping is made in the application; however this can only be speculation. It is one of the unknowns and it has to be accepted that the presence of the hostel could lead to a significant increase in the numbers of those camping as knowledge of the open toilet facility grows. However, the provision of open toilet facilities would reduce the growing health hazard that camping is creating. The situation in winter needs consideration (e.g. whether the toilets will remain usable). It is argued that the presence of the hostel could reduce problems in the area such as anti-social behaviour and fire risk. This will create a challenge for the hostel staff in respect of their having a 'policing' role outside the hostel and the NTS need to take this into account when considering staffing roles and levels.
- The proposal brings the potential for using the facility for outdoor learning and the internal design should allow for an area where aspects of this can take place, particularly when the weather is poor.
- We assume that the mountain rescue post will be remaining.
- Consideration should be given to encouraging natural regeneration and/or planting of native tree species in the area.
The applications (numbers 2016/0227/DET and 2016/0228/LBC) are available in the planning section of the Park's website.
NEMT Front Page
| Previous Page | Volume Index
Page | Next Page | Journal Index Page
Please let the webmaster know if there
are problems with viewing these pages or with the links they contain.