National Trust for Scotland objects to plans to turn Jimmy Savile’s vandalised Glen Coe cottage into ‘futuristic’ home because it would ‘distract’ from the landscape and bring no ‘obvious public benefit’
National Trust for Scotland has objected to plans to convert Jimmy Savile‘s vandalised Highland cottage into a ‘futuristic’ home.
The conservation organisation criticised details for the proposal for the property at Allt-Na-Reigh in Glencoe, saying it would ‘insensitively dominate the landscape’.
The proposed development to the disgraced DJ’s former home has faced a raft of objections from bodies including Mountaineering Scotland.
Savile lived in the remote property from 1998 until his death in 2011 and is believed to have abused up to 20 people there.
It has been repeatedly vandalised with slogans over the years since his death.
National Trust for Scotland has objected to plans to convert paedophile DJ Jimmy Savile’s former Highland cottage into a ‘futuristic’ home. Pictured: Designs for the property at Allt-na-Reigh in Glencoe
The cottage sits beside the A82 Fort William to Glasgow road and was also once the home of mountaineering legend Hamish MacInnes, who founded mountain rescue teams, invented the MacInnes stretcher – which is used for rescues worldwide – and also designed the first all-metal ice axe.
Following Savile’s death in 2011, the two-bedroom bungalow was put up for auction.
It was purchased for £212,000 with the buyer intending to live there.
It has since been bought by the family of retail tycoon Harris Aslam, who wants to replace it with a distinctive modern home.
However, National Trust for Scotland has now submitted an objection, joining Mountaineering Scotland in criticising the potential new property.
They wrote that the proposed new building’s ‘substantially enlarged scale and contemporary design does not reflect Glen Coe’s long-established, distinct built heritage and would insensitively dominate the landscape in this highly visible location at the heart of the Pass of Glen Coe.’
Following revelations of late owner Savile’s prolific sex offences, the cottages has been repeatedly vandalised and had slogans sprayed on its walls.
It is believed the paedophile used the remote cottage to abuse up to 20 people
The body also added: ‘We believe that a building of deliberate contemporary styling in a prominent location in Glen Coe is without precedent and will distract and detract from the immersive experience of travelling through a landscape that is renowned and valued across the world.
‘It damages our nation’s reputation for respecting natural and cultural heritage, while bringing no obvious public benefit.’
Mountaineering Scotland, which has more than 15,000 members, has also objected to the proposal before Highland Council.
‘The cottage is situated prominently on a bend of the and features in one of the iconic views of Scotland, the view of the Three Sisters of Glencoe from the A82 heading west,’ said the climbing organisation.
‘Having looked at the artist’s impressions of the new design that were submitted with the planning application, Mountaineering Scotland has concerns with what is proposed.
‘The concept of rebuilding a cottage at this location is fine, as there has been a cottage here for many years.
‘What we are questioning is the design which seems to elevate the building above the roadside, making it appear to be standing proud in the landscape.
Mountaineer, writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish previously challenged calls to bulldoze the property because of its connection to mountaineer MacInnes, saying its history should not be allowed to be overshadowed by the paedophile
‘This has the effect of drawing the eye to the structure itself and away from the scenic landscape, seeming to impose the building on the landscape, rather than within the landscape as the plans suggest.
‘In addition, the planning application fails to consider how the renovated dwelling and outbuilding would look from the popular hill paths and crags lying south of the A82, especially the descent into the Glen from Coire Gabhail, and Buachaille Etive Beag.
‘This is in a National Scenic Area, a designation that acknowledges that the landscape here is up there with the best that Scotland has to offer.’
There was a community consultation about these plans, in September, which Mountaineering Scotland’s CEO, Stuart Younie, attended.
The conclusion was that there was no problem with renovation of a cottage on the existing development footprint or the principle of demolishing the existing cottage to enable it to be replaced with a new build.
‘However, since a detailed planning application has been lodged the community council and a number of local residents have lodged objections,’ added Mountaineering Scotland.
‘There was also an intention to restore the outbuilding of historical importance, with an “emphasis on reinforcing the positive effect Hamish MacInnes had on the land with the outbuilding being a symbol of this”.
‘It is disappointing that the architect’s plans for converting the outbuilding into habitable accommodation look little like the existing outbuilding, making it difficult to see how the claim of reinforcing the heritage of Hamish MacInnes is substantiated.
‘The matter now lies with The Highland Council’s planning department and we urge The Highland Council to refuse planning permission on grounds that the siting and design of this particular development at this specific location is inappropriate and would detract from the quality and character of the landscape in Glen Coe.’
Several others have objected including one couple who described the proposed dwelling as a ‘large futuristic building’ and Glencoe And Glen Etive Community Council also has concerns.
But NatureScot wrote: ‘There are natural heritage interests of international importance on the site, but our advice is that these will not be adversely affected by the proposal.’
Mr Aslam, who is in his 20s, is director of Fife-based Scottish convenience store operator Eros Retail, which is part of the family’s Glenshire group of companies.
Together with his cousin and business partner Raza Rehman – and other family members – they bought the property from an Edinburgh builder for a reported £335,000.
He said they wanted to turn it into a family home with its ‘beautiful location’.
During a question-and-answer session with around 20 people, it was made clear that while Mr Aslam and Mr Rehman had looked at renovating the main existing building, which would be the easiest and cheapest option, it was concluded this was not viable if they wanted to rid the site of its association with Savile.
‘Yes the property does have a dark history – but only for a certain period. I think we can do something really positive with it,’ said Mr Aslam.
Over the years, the cottage had several slogans daubed on its walls – which had been whitewashed years earlier in an effort to deter vandals.
The word ‘paedo’ was daubed on the side of the hillside house. Among previous slogans was scrawled ‘Jimmy the beast’.
Savile first saw the cottage on a cycling holiday in 1944.
The disgraced DJ once entertained Prince Charles over dinner at the cottage and it was featured in notorious Louis Theroux documentary When Louis Met Jimmy.
He became a regular in Glencoe village, with residents saying he was an ‘attention seeker’ who would wander around in a Highland kilt waving at passing tourists.
One man from the area described how he had asked for the DJ’s autograph and instead got a bizarre message from him that read ‘lost girls’ should visit him.