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Airbnb fears raised over Jimmy Savile house plan in Glen Coe

Planners have still to issue ruling on proposal for the site of the disgraced presenter's former home.

Shamed TV personality Jimmy Savile.
The shamed TV personality lived in the house from 1998 in Glen Coe until his death in 2011.

Objectors to plans for the site of the former home of Jimmy Savile in Glen Coe have raised concerns – saying the scale of development could give rise to it being used as an Airbnb.

Owners of the shamed TV presenter’s cottage at Allt-Na-Reigh, in the heart of Glen Coe, submitted plans to Highland Council in December, after a national outcry called for the vandalised and dilapidated house to be demolished.

Following Savile’s death, the two-bedroom bungalow was bought for £212,000 by a Glasgow-based builder, before being sold to Harris Aslam’s company Eros Retail, 10 years later.

A previous application by Mr Aslam, was withdrawn.

The cottage was once the home of revered mountaineer Hamish MacInnes.

Savile bought the property from Mr MacInnes, and used it as a holiday home until his death at the age of 84 in 2011.

Glen Coe plans would see a ‘ three-bedroom family home’ at Jimmy Savile site

Since his death, more than 450 people claim to have been abused by Savile, with more than a dozen people claiming the radio DJ and Jim’ll FIx It star assaulted them at the Glen Coe property.

The plans would see a luxury three-bedroom family home over a 1.75 storey dwelling with “high-quality architectural design and inviting spaces which take advantage of the scenery”.

Jimmy Savile's house in Glen Coe.
Jimmy Savile’s house in Glen Coe looks set to be demolished. Image: Lauren Watt.

It is proposed to retain the existing outhouses found along the entrance of the property and to use the existing access point to the site off the A82.

Architects representing Mr Aslam said outbuildings would be named the Hamish House in memory of the climber.

In documents published online, objectors have raised concerns about the house being used as an Airbnb.

Graham Lawrie, from nearby Kinlochleven, said: “I wish to object to this proposal, and feel strongly insulted that anyone would name this after Hamish, having known Hamish personally he would be insulted by such a gesture.

“Yet again this proposal is NOT in keeping with the glen, and will be a two-storey build and not the one-storey of the original.

Floorplans for the new building, Hamish House, to be built on the site of the old Savile cottage.
The new building will be built on the site of the old Savile cottage at Allt-Na-Reigh. Image: Highland Council.

“This is NOT a family residence, which is made obvious by extra accommodation in the outbuilding.

“The layout screams of a high-end holiday/Airbnb let, which is also not in keeping with the area.”

He added: “As a local to the area of 56 years, I wish to object strongly to this monstrosity of a building that is replacing a one-storey building.”

“The West Highlands and Islands local development plan discusses unaffordable (for local residents) holiday/second homes, and notes that the priorities for development in and around Glencoe should avoid piecemeal development like this, and avoid development sites prominent in the landscape (like this).”

Agreeing with Mr Lawrie’s point, Glasgow-based David McGaw said: “There appears to be an unwarranted increase in the scale of the property – it almost looks like potentially two dwellings.

‘Scale of the redevelopment at Glen Coe’ raising Airbnb fears

“The whole thing looks like opportunistic Airbnb commercialisation – despite the claims to the contrary by the applicant.

Jimmy Saville house in the heart of Glen Coe.
The cottage was formerly owned by the late Jimmy Savile. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

“I would welcome the Highland Council not granting an Airbnb license (now mandatory) for either the existing cottage or any potential replacement on the grounds of the dangerous and inadequate access to the property.”

John Nish from Stirling pleaded with the council to reject the plans.

He said: “The scale of the redevelopment does make me wonder if this is indeed for a family dwelling, or rather for a potential Airbnb/holiday home.

“This would not be appropriate for such an iconic location, especially given the proximity to such a narrow, winding, busy road.”

He said: “The desires and wishes of an individual need to be measured against the wider impact here.

“This is the jewel in the crown of Scotland’s mountain landscapes and, as such, is a huge draw to tourists and visitors from all over the world.”

Glen Coe and Glen Etive Community Council did not object to the plans, but noted: “We would, however, request that action be taken as soon as possible to demolish the existing building, which has been repeatedly damaged by acts of vandalism and is now a risk to health and safety.”

Mr Aslam, who is the director of Fife-based grocery store empire Eros Retail, has been asked to comment.

Louise Glen: Jimmy Savile house is a stain on Scotland’s most outstanding landscape – so knock it down