Owner of West End Airbnb - just off Byres Road - loses council appeal

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The owner of an Airbnb flat off Byres Road has lost an appeal against a council order to stop letting the property.

Glasgow City Council ruled a basement flat at 15 Dowanside Road could no longer be used as short stay accommodation as it did not have planning permission and is within a residential tenement.

One neighbour said the “free access of complete strangers to our private close” was a safety concern.

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However, the owner, James Stewart Clegg, appealed to Scottish Ministers, claiming a separate entrance “negates any anxiety of increased footfall in the communal close”.

A reporter, appointed by the Scottish Government, has upheld the council’s order after deciding issuing an enforcement notice to cease operating a short stay flat was “proportionate”.

The flat can’t be used as an Airbnb.The flat can’t be used as an Airbnb.
The flat can’t be used as an Airbnb.

Following a complaint from a member of the public, the council had become aware the property “may be being used as short stay accommodation which does not benefit from planning permission”.

In a letter to the owner, the council added: “As the flat is located within a block of flats within mainstream residential use, its current use as short stay accommodation is contrary to the city development plan.”

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The council ordered Mr Clegg to stop using the flat as short stay accommodation, to remove any adverts or key locks “pertaining to such use”.

However, the owner argued: “Whilst there is access to the property via 15 Dowanside Road by way of communal close the property is in fact accessed by way of a main door in the garden which is off Caledon Lane which negates any anxiety of increased footfall in the communal close.”

One resident told the reporter that “people renting the short stay accommodation owned by Mr Clegg access it via the private common close of 15 Dowanside Road”.

“On many occasions, over many years, we have met the people renting Mr Clegg’s flat entering or exiting the close,” they added. “The free access of complete strangers to our private close is a matter of concern to us in terms of our safety and security.”

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And a council statement to the reporter added that while there is access to the flat from a rear garden and lane, the users of the Airbnb property are “provided with a key for the main door”.

“It is clear that amenity problems arise where short stay serviced apartments are intermingled within blocks of residential flats,” it added.

“Given the transient nature of occupation there is often little, if any, concern for how such problems may impact on the amenity of surrounding long-term residents.”

The independent reporter, Fortune Gumbo, visited the site last month before ruling the council’s enforcement notice was “not excessive” and the owner had “not put forward any alternative steps which they consider necessary” to remedy the situation.

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“The appellant has not set out the requirements of the notice which they consider excessive,” the reporter concluded. “The requirements to cease the use, removal of advertisements and locks are proportionate to remedying the breach.”

The reporter did state the council’s order to remove “any advertisements or locks pertaining to such use” created “unnecessary potential ambiguity”. The council was told to change ‘or’ to ‘and’.

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