Controversial plans to set up a glamping development on the edge of a historic North Ayrshire park have been rejected by councillors.

And elected members have welcomed the decision, insisting that the character of Eglinton Country Park had to be protected.

Stuart McLean and Susan Pearce had appealed to the planning department after their original decision not to allow the wild camping project.

The appeal was considered at the North Ayrshire Council Local Review Body on Wednesday.

The applicants argued that temporary permission gave the council an opportunity to manage permissible camping and decide further down the line if this type of development worked

They argued if the site was suitable for limited and wild camping it would make more sense to offer a managed approach for the benefits of the park.

Limited camping would, they argued, be restricted to a maximum of 28 days a year, which would have a considerably lower impact on the environment and local residents than a year-round managed glamping site.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: The site for the glamping marked in redThe site for the glamping marked in red (Image: NAC)

Similarly, the Scottish Access Code was clear on the concept that wild camping should ‘leave no trace’ to avoid damaging the natural environment or disturbing local wildlife.

It was highly unlikely that there would be significant numbers of people interested in wild camping at this site.

Kilwinning councillor Scott Davidson said: “There are well-informed objections. The turning circle in parking on the road will bring people traffic right to the main entrance of Eglinton Park where people who travel on foot.

"It is a single track road. I support our original objection to this planning application. Eglinton Park means everything to the people of Kilwinning and Irvine.”

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Eglinton Park

Saltcoats and Stevenson Cllr Cameron Inglis added: “The biggest things in the park are the historic gardens and designed landscapes.

"Eglinton Park is something we are very proud of and part of our heritage. To have something like this would not seem right.”

Planning officials said that a previously undeveloped woodland site within a historic, designed landscape on the edge of Eglinton Country Park was not considered an appropriate location for a glamping development due to the extensive loss of trees and resulting environmental impacts it would cause.

It was not considered that the proposals would represent a sustainable form of development given the substantial loss of flora and woodland cover, the adverse landscape and visual impacts on the setting of the nearby listed building, and on the designed landscape. 

They said the adverse environmental impacts the proposed development would directly result in were not justified by any potential economic benefits.

It was noted considerable tree felling had taken place on the land since the 2022 planning application was determined. It was understood that earlier in 2023, Scottish Forestry granted felling permission for parts of the woodland, with restocking of the trees required by 2026.

The proposed development would involve some land having to be permanently left clear of trees and other planting to provide space.

The type of use proposed would involve members of the public spending time in the woodland for overnight stays, with consequent impacts on its potential to regenerate for nature and wildlife.

There was nothing in the application saying the pods could not be developed elsewhere.
It was not considered that unplanned sporadic development on this particular parcel of woodland on the fringes of Eglinton Country Park would be in the best interests of the designed landscape character of the area. 

Councillor Davidson’s motion to uphold the original decision to refuse the application was passed unanimously.