Stella McCartney’s plan for Highlands holiday home attracts raft of objections

Fashion designer Stella McCartney’s plans for an ultra-modern holiday house in the Scottish Highlands have been met with a backlash from across the UK.

Proposals submitted in the name of Ms McCartney’s husband, Alasdhair Willis, show a glass and concrete house, on Roshven Bay, designed by architects Brown and Brown.

Planning permission was granted for the site in 2000, but objectors have said the new design is very different from the original, with 54 comments submitted to Highland Council urging it to be rejected.

Concerns were raised by neighbours and visitors as far away as Kent and Somerset about issues including the impact on an otter population, removal of Scots pine trees, and sailors being “blinded” by glare from the glass.

King Charles III coronation
Stella McCartney wants to build a home on Roshven Bay (Ian West/PA)

Wildlife in Roshven Bay inspired Victorian illustrator Jemima Blackburn, and some objections cited the historic connections as a reason for rejecting the plans, while others said priority should be given to affordable housing.

The former owner of the site, Karen White, from Taunton, Somerset, wrote: “We obtained planning permission for this to be a permanent family home.

“Great care was taken to make the house unobtrusive and appropriate for the stunning environment and setting. We understood that the new purchaser was planning a modest home. Unfortunately, this application does not respect the site.

“There is a family of otters on the headland which will be disrupted if the building impinges on the cliff and I have also seen newts in the pools.

“The woodland in which the master bedroom spur is sited is ancient Scottish Oak woodland and should be preserved.”

Lady Marie-Sophie Law de Lauriston, from Fulham, London, described the house as “a scar”, and raised concerns about wildlife habitats.

Jonathan Seccombe, from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, said it was an “insult” and his wife, Petronella, described it as an “eyesore”.

Mrs Seccombe added: “The bay is totally unspoiled at present and the presence of this modern, unattractive, property will be a blot on the landscape, not to mention that mature trees will be removed, big glass windows installed which will cause light pollution and importantly local wildlife, specifically otters, will be affected.”

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Stella McCartney’s plans have drawn more than 50 objections (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

Conservationist Sam Seccombe wrote: “It would set a bad precedent, that anyone with enough money could buy up unspoilt and extremely beautiful land, then build enormous dwellings that would likely remain unused for most of the year.”

The site was described as “wilderness” by neighbour Dougal Mather, who said it was “a genuine survivor vicinity untouched by the hand of man”, and “irreplaceable once gone or altered”.

Iona Murray, of Perth, wrote: “This building must not be erected as it shows a complete disregard for the natural and historic heritage of this secluded bay.

“The plan shows a disregard for the unique ecology of this rare environment in Scotland.”

Only one respondent was supportive of the building design, but objected to the removal of Scots pines.

Neighbour Alasdair Carmichael, from Glenuig, Lochailort, wrote: “I have no objection to the construction of a building on this site per se nor do I object to the contemporary design of the building.

“However, I do have reservations about the removal of a number of Scots Pine trees on the site, they may well be remnants of the ancient Caledonian forest.”

Under planning rules anyone can object to a development. The objections to the plans can be read on Highland Council’s website.

Stella McCartney has been contacted for comment.