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Council / Knitwear producer appeals planning decision

A KNITWEAR producer has launched another appeal after being refused planning permission to site a van in the centre of Lerwick to sell goods from.

BAKKA’s Mary Macgregor was denied full permission last year after Shetland Islands Council planners ruled that the “van would look and feel out of place when compared and considered with the character of the area”.

The van at the centre of the application.

They also said the proposal was contrary to seven different policies in the Shetland Local Development Plan.

Macgregor had applied for planning permission to allow her to sell goods from the van for more than the 28 days a year a street trader licence allows.

She was incidentally refused a street trader licence to sell goods from the van at Irvine Place last year, but Sheriff Ian Cruickshank upheld her appeal when she took the decision to Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Macgregor currently trades from a stall at Harrison Square in the summer months but she wishes to sell goods from a van instead.

In her planning refusal appeal application, Macgregor clarified that she would not be parking overnight, with the van coming and going on the days when she would be trading.

She claimed in her appeal that the Local Development Plan, which is used to guide planning decisions, “only addresses permanent structures and not temporary ones” – like her van would be.

“If a condition of no overnight parking were to be attached to the planning permission then the structure would no longer be permanent but would become temporary, and this in turn would mean that the Local Development Plan 2014 would no longer be applicable,” she wrote.

“This removes all reasons for refusal. Therefore I seek this review to ask to the review committee to grant full planning permission with the condition added of no overnight parking.”

Macgregor also said that her vehicle is “no different from any other van, usually builder’s, parked along Commercial Street on a daily basis, some with temporary parking permits, others without”.

The contemporary Fair Isle knitwear producer also said in her appeal application that she wants to keep her business mobile instead of setting up a permanent shop because as her products attract more interest from visitors than locals, she needs to hone in on the tourist trade to be viable year-round.

“Shetland welcomes visitors from all around the world at certain times of the year, and during those periods my business has an opportunity to flourish, but outside those periods, Shetland is very quiet,” Macgregor wrote.

“A business premises on Commercial Street needs to attract predominantly Shetland-based customers to be viable your-round.”

Macgregor admitted it is “much more expensive” to operate in this way, as “my costs travelling to where the customers [are] greatly exceed the rent of a business premises”. She added that she uses the van to travel to craft fairs on the UK mainland.

Macgregor also claimed that Shetland Islands Council would gain more income from a street traders licence and parking permits than rates on a business premises.

The appeal is now set to go in front of councillors on Shetland Islands Council’s planning committee.