Alexandria B&B owner hits out over "nightmare" expansion of farm


The owner of an Alexandria B&B has hit out over the expansion of a neighbouring farm, claiming its impact has been a “nightmare”.

James MacKinnon, who runs Cloudside with wife Morag, hit out over Overton Farm’s operations, which include vehicle repair and steel fabrication businesses.

Muirhead Dairy, which operates the farm on Overton Road, is now applying to West Dunbartonshire Council for retrospective permission to have the firms on site.

The planning application states the owner did not know consent was required.

Muirhead Dairy claim the small businesses provides necessary additional income during a challenging time for the struggling dairy industry.

But Mr MacKinnon, who has lived on Overton Road for 14 years, says he is fed up of a constant stream of heavy vehicles to and from the farm past his guest house “at all hours of the day”.

A report to WDC’s planning committee today (Wednesday) also notes Mr MacKinnon’s claims that he has suffered anti-social behaviour as a result of his protests against the plans.

Mr MacKinnon told the Lennox Herald: “The noise and the vibration coming from these vehicles is notable and it is all hours of the day from 5am until 9pm, seven days a week.

“It’s been going on for four years now and we’ve been through so much hassle with it.

“What is happening up there is not of a small scale. Apart from the dairy farm itself, there’s a vehicle repair garage, steel fabrication business, bespoke tiling business and a gymnasium. There are also workers from Balfour Beatty who are staying in the caravans.

“We’ve had guests who have asked us at breakfast what all the noise was. The road is not suitable for all the vehicles connected to these businesses.

“We often see HGVs reversing down the road because they can’t turn into the farm.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare.”

Overyon Farm stores caravans at the site and is home to several other businesses

He is joined in his concerns by neighbours John and Irene Gallacher, who say the traffic to the farm has increased dramatically in recent years.

Muirhead Dairy has applied for a part change of use of the farmland and buildings for the storage of caravans and leisure vehicles, as well as vehicle repair and steel fabrication.

Approximately 1600m² of agricultural land has been surfaced in gravel and is used for the storage of caravans and leisure vehicles.

Fencing and steel fabrication business McKinnon Fencing Ltd is an occupant, while vehicle repair business Stewart Howie Agricultural Engineers operates from a detached farm building.

Muirhead Dairy has also applied for retrospective planning permission for a farm outbuilding, which was built in 2012.

Stewart Howie, who runs the vehicle repair business, wrote a letter to the council, fearing for his livelihood.

He wrote: “Due to Overton Farm’s diversification, I have been able to establish my local business on its premises and have brought local employment opportunities to the area.

“If the planning permission were to be refused a consequence of this would be my requirement to make my employee redundant while other premises were sought.

“New premises could not be guaranteed in the local area so in turn I may lose my business connection with Muirhead’s dairy. This would have a catastrophic effect on the future of my small business.”

Muirhead Dairy’s agent David Findlay has also written to the planning department, stating that the farm needed to look at diversifying the business to keep it afloat.

He wrote: “The farming industry, as with many industries, is experiencing a very challenging economic climate and none more so than dairy farming.

“As with many other farms, they have had to look at options for diversifying from traditional farming by adding new, small scale, non-detrimental activities to supplement their income.”

Kirsty Davison, who lives on Overton Road, disputes points made by Mr MacKinnon in her letter to the council, which reads: “As a resident immediately adjacent to the private access road to Muirhead’s Dairy Farm for over 12 years, I have never noticed a disturbance associated with vehicles accessing the farm at any time of night.”

A report compiled by planning officers recommends councillors approve the applications today.

It reads: “Whilst the various uses are of a nature which could be accommodated on an industrial/business site within the built-up area, they support farm diversification and enhance the viability of Overton Farm.

“The vehicle repair business primarily repairs vehicles associated with Overton Farm and uses an existing farm building on site.

“Similarly, the fencing and steel fabricator is operating from an existing farm building and has undertaken fence repairs on site in addition to other agricultural related work that they undertake.

“Although the storage of caravans and leisure vehicles is being undertaken on agricultural land, the land is not deemed to be suitable for grazing.”

It also adds that it is not considered any of the uses give rise to significant impact on residents and says the level and nature of traffic associated with the businesses are “reasonable”.

The Lennox Herald phoned Muirhead Dairy for a comment but nobody returned our call.



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