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

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

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Glasgow City Council has decided that a basement flat at 15 Dowanside Road can no longer be used as short-term accommodation as it does not have planning permission and is in a residential building.

A neighbor said “unrestricted access to our private fence by complete strangers” was a security concern.

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However, owner James Stewart Clegg appealed to Scottish ministers, saying a separate entrance ‘negates any concerns about increased traffic within the communal fence’.

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A journalist, appointed by the Scottish Government, upheld the council’s order after deciding that issuing an enforcement notice to stop operating a short-term flat was ‘proportionate’.

The apartment cannot be used as an Airbnb.

Following a complaint from a member of the public, council had learned the property ‘could be used as short-stay accommodation which does not benefit from planning permission’.

In a letter to the landlord, the council added: ‘As the flat is situated in a block of flats for traditional residential use, its current use as short-term accommodation is contrary to the town’s development plan.’

The council ordered Mr Clegg to stop using the flat as short-term accommodation, to remove any advertising or key locks ‘relating to such use’.

However, the owner argued: ‘Although there is access to the property via 15 Dowanside Road via a communal fence, the property is actually accessed via a main gate into the garden which is located off Caledon Lane, negating any anxiety of increased footfall in the communal paddock.

A resident told the reporter that ‘people renting the short-term accommodation owned by Mr Clegg access it through the private communal fence at 15 Dowanside Road’.

“On many occasions, over many years, we have encountered the tenants of Mr. Clegg’s apartment entering or exiting the fence,” they added. “The unrestricted access of total strangers to our private fence is of concern to us in terms of safety and security.”

And a council statement to the reporter added that although there is access to the apartment from a garden and a rear driveway, users of the Airbnb property receive “a key for the main door”.

‘It is clear that amenity issues arise when short-term serviced apartments are interspersed in blocks of residential flats,’ he added.

“Given the transient nature of occupancy, there is often little, if any, concern about the impact these issues may have on the amenity of surrounding long-term residents.”

Freelance journalist Fortune Gumbo visited the site last month before ruling that the council’s enforcement notice was ‘not excessive’ and that the owner had ‘proposed no alternative measures that he deemed it necessary” to remedy the situation.

“The appellant has not set out the requirements of the notice which he considers excessive”, concluded the journalist. “Requirements to cease use, remove ads and locks are commensurate with remedying the breach.”

The reporter said the council’s order to remove “any advertisements or locks relating to such use” created “unnecessary potential ambiguity”. The board was told to change “or” to “and”.

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