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Pitlochry Theatre workers urge council to allow ‘vitally important’ holiday flats to stay open

Theatre workers say the high cost of tourist accommodation in Pitlochry is a real issue for their industry

Pitlochry Festival theatre exterior on a sunny day
Pitlochry Theatre staff say they struggle to find affordable accommodation. Image: Steve MacDougall / DC Thomson.

Pitlochry Theatre bosses are urging councillors to overturn a block on two holiday apartments in the town.

The accommodation at Bonnethill Road was refused a short-term let licence last year.

Officials said the loss of more residential properties would have a negative effect on Pitlochry.

However, theatre bosses say the flats are vital for the venue’s prosperity.

And staff say a shortage of reasonably priced accommodation in the Perthshire tourist town is posing serious problems for their profession.

The properties’ owner¬†Michelle Mcmillan has appealed against Perth and Kinross Council’s licence decision.

And on Monday, the authority’s local review body will consider her case.

Bonnethill Road street sign in Pitlochry
The apartments are on Pitlochry’s Bonnethill Road. Image: Google Street View

In her submission, she points to her longstanding arrangement with Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

“I have had many excellent 5 star reviews from guests, no complaints and also emails of support from the theatre company stating this has been an ideal property for their staff,” she writes.

She says her company Pitlochry Escapes has bookings from theatre staff from March to August this year.

And she urges councillors to consider the wider benefits to the town.

“In between supporting tourism and accommodating visitors from all over the globe this is also helping to support the local community,” she says

Pitlochry main street with traffic and visitors on a sunny day
Pitlochry is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist towns. Image: Bill Boaden/Creative Commons.

“Obviously they they will be spending in local shops but also supporting the local community entertainment and arts.”

Pitlochry Theatre brings millions to Scotland

A number of Pitlochry Festival Theatre workers have also written to the council asking it to approve the licence.

Supporters include Pitlochry Theatre’s artistic director Elizabeth Newman.

She says the Bonnethill Road accommodation has been “a vital resource for the artistic community in Pitlochry”.

In her submission to the council, she writes: “There are few options for artists in the local area.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre's artistic director Elizabeth Newman smiling outside the venue
Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s artistic director Elizabeth Newman. Image: Fraser Band.

“She has also hosted placement students, which has been vitally important for us to fulfill our mission to be a training theatre.”

One lighting designer writes: “Pitlochry is a real problem for theatre freelancers as accommodation is so expensive.

Another worker, who stayed during a placement in 2023, says: “Pitlochry Festival Theatre brings in the majority of tourists and a huge amount of work into Pitlochry.

“Currently there are very few places in Pitlochry that offer affordable accommodation for the people working at the theatre.”

Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s value to the economy has previously been put at ¬£13 million a year.

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