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Local Hero village ‘could end up abandoned’ as rise of Airbnbs leaves just 12 people living in Pennan

Pennan residents will be asked for their opinions on the proposed conservation area review. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
Pennan residents will be asked for their opinions on the proposed conservation area review. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Pennan is perhaps best known as the home of the close-knit community in the heartwarming Local Hero.

But the reality facing the handful of villagers remaining there today couldn’t be much more different from the famous film.

They say the vast majority of its picturesque cottages have been snapped up by AirBnB operators, leaving it little more than a “living museum”.

Pennan and its famous red telephone box featured in the 1983 movie Local Hero. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

The stark situation emerged during a council meeting this week on the best way to preserve its character.

The remaining locals say proposed rule changes could make a bad situation even worse…

By imposing new “conservation area” regulations, those living there would have to take special care when doing up their properties – to ensure they “preserve and enhance” Pennan.

That would mean installing the likes of new windows and doors would come at a much higher cost.

Fears Pennan will become ‘tourist town’

Councillor Glen Reynolds said only a dozen full-time residents still live in Pennan – including himself.

And Mr Reynolds fears the conservation rules could mean a further exodus, leaving the scenic spot “abandoned”.

He explained: “The beating heart of a community are the people that live in it.

“What is happening in Pennan, which is happening elsewhere, is that people are moving out.

“We’re having AirBnBs, empty properties and people who are here today and gone tomorrow… And the village ends up being abandoned.

That is not a beating heart that we want.”

Councillors raised concerns that the conservation area plan could be costly for local residents. Image: Kenny/DC Thomson

One the possible extra home expenses, he added: “Some people simply will not be able to afford it.”

Pennan’s last fishing cottage recently became AirBnB

Film fans have flocked to the village since it starred in the 1982 Bill Forsyth comedy.

Exterior shots were filmed in Pennan including those of the film’s fictional Macaskill Arms hotel and the village’s famous red phone box.

But earlier this year, we reported that the community’s last fishing village was being turned into a holiday let.

And SNP councillor Ross Cassie told the meeting that Pennan needs to be more than a “living museum”.

Movie buffs have visited the historic Aberdeenshire village since it featured in the movie Local Hero. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

What next for Pennan plans?

Following discussion, the committee unanimously agreed to extend the consultation process.

That means locals will get more time to have their say, and could yet see off the contentious rule changes.

You can watch the Pennan discussion below:

Last surviving fishing cottage in Pennan to be turned into holiday let

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