CHILLED out councillors liked the idea of a "mindfulness labyrinth and edible garden" near Charlestown but planning officers weren't convinced.

Lisa Mulube had already put up a yurt for yoga classes, without planning permission, in the grounds of The Foundry and sought consent for it and an outbuilding and shed for the delivery of therapy sessions.

The planning service recommended refusal, stating it was an "unjustified" development in the countryside, would result in a "significant uplift" in traffic and would be served by a "substandard private road with substandard visibility" onto the C7 West Road.

However, the convener of the west and central planning committee, Councillor David Barratt, disagreed and moved for approval.

He said: "I feel a countryside retreat needs to be in the countryside. I know that's not the exact description but to me that's what this is.

"On that basis I think this is justified and there is a proven need for it to be in the countryside."

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Cllr Barratt said the site was on a bus route, that people could walk or cycle there and a traffic survey had shown average speeds on the 60mph limit road were nearer 40mph.

He said conditions should be applied to address any issues.

The Foundry is north-west of Charlestown and sits within 980 square metres of grounds.

Case officer Brian Forsyth said Ms Mulube began yoga classes in the yurt in August 2021, with a maximum of eight participants and four-to-five classes per week.

Dunfermline Press: Councillors argued that yoga in a countryside setting would be preferable to sessions in a cold hall. Councillors argued that yoga in a countryside setting would be preferable to sessions in a cold hall. (Image: Pixabay)

His report explained: "Mixed therapy sessions are planned from the outbuilding, including talking, art and sound therapies, with sessions for individuals and small groups.

"The part-use of the grounds for delivery of therapy services is by way of a mindfulness labyrinth and edible garden.

"No other information has been provided in relation to the scale of the therapy services use or whether there would be employees."

There were six letters of support and one objection from a neighbour.

Mr Forsyth said there was no proven need for it to be in the countryside and pointed out that Ms Mulube had successfully run yoga classes in local halls between 2017 and 2021.

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He said the mixed use development was "expected to be particularly car dependent" but added that he did, "at the 11th hour", receive an email explaining that the landowner had agreed to clear vegetation to improve the visibility splays.

Local councillor Andrew Verrecchia said: "I'm no expert on yoga but it's all about relaxation and mindfulness.

"I can't think of a more appropriate setting than somewhere like this."

Reasoning that yoga in a yurt or open countryside would be more beneficial to mental health and wellbeing than sessions in a "cold hall", Cllr John Beare asked: "Are we being unreasonable in asking the applicant to demonstrate the need for a countryside location in this case?"

Planning service manager Mary Stewart replied: "This is different. These uses have a different appeal because they're in this location, as opposed to being in another location, but that doesn't equate to a proven need."

She said very specific conditions would be needed or "we would have no control over the number of vehicles that could visit" and added that the landowner would have to commit to a legal agreement stating that the visibility splays would be maintained as long as the business was operational.

Cllr David Alexander said that "we can't ignore the fact the transportation service have objected" and backed a call to defer a decision.

The committee voted 8-6 in favour of continuing the application to the next meeting.