Student heartbroken as council orders her to demolish her beloved garden shed

A devastated art student will have to destroy her much-loved garden shed studio next year.

Megan Archibald has won the right to keep the studio for now, but will have to clear it from the garden of her mother's Eliburn home by June 2021 when she completes her studies.

"My heart is broken," she said after the decision, Edinburgh Live reports.

Planners had described the shed as having "a dominating scale which affects the visual amenity" and maintained that, by sitting on decking, it was 40cm higher than permitted.

They added that discussions with Megan's mother, Dorothy Cairns, to find a solution by rotating or moving the shed had come to nothing.

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At the initial hearing last month planners confirmed they had not visited the garden because of coronavirus restrictions.

Megan told that meeting that she and her mother had built the shed in good faith, having consulted the council's planning department beforehand. Planning permission was sought retrospectively.

The shed was built as studio space to allow Megan to complete her studies for a Master of Fine Art degree from Edinburgh University.

Studio space to work at university is limited and she had struggled to find somewhere in West Lothian to use.

When the Covid-19 lockdown arrived it became the only place she could continue her studies.

The award-winning painter and photographer's work featured in the 2019 annual report of the homeless charity the Bethany Christian Trust, entitled Building People Up.

Megan said this week: "Of all the things the last year and a half has thrown my way, this one is the worst. I finally believe in the no-win scenario."

She added: "I've exhausted every single option and the committee simply will not budge.

"Today is an incredibly sad day for West Lothian and tantamount to proof that there is simply no room provision made for artists to practice here. Thank you to everyone who tried so hard to support my effort to keep it."

Mrs Cairns told the Development Management Committee that she had discussed the objections with her neighbour and these had been resolved. She had also investigated the options of moving the shed but these were not financially viable.

Options to install frosted glass had solved the issues of privacy but planners remained adamant that permission had to be refused.

A complex argument about planning rules involving senior planning officers and lawyers dominated the debate at the latest hearing on the planning application.

Councillors were told that because the height of the shed could not be reduced the application would have to be refused.

Councillor Willie Boyle told the meeting: "My understanding from the last meeting was that we had asked for a compromise to be found. This is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut."

Councillors voted five to two for an amendment from councillor Lawrence Fitzpatrick suggesting a nine month consent.

Megan is now working to find a place to store her photographic equipment including developing tanks. She is also looking for a new home for her artwork.

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