East Lothian craftsman seeks new home for furniture making firm

More than 25 students graduate from the Chippendale International School of Furniture’s professional course each year.

Some students are able to launch their own business from the school, near Gifford, and its workshops.

However, they can only be there for a limited period of time.

Now, one of the graduates is looking to create his own workshop at Bolton Muir, between Gifford and East Saltoun.

A statement included with the application, which is being considered by East Lothian Council, notes: “Chapelhill Fine Furniture are craftsman furniture-makers who specialise in designing and making high-quality bespoke furniture from British hardwoods.

“Iain Stirling has lived in East Lothian all his life and is seeking planning permission to build the studio workshop to support local economic development in supporting both his own business and that of several other furniture makers and craftspeople who wish to remain in the county.

“Having graduated from the Chippendale International School of Furniture in 2021, the applicant is currently renting space in the school’s own studios but his tenancy there is limited by the school to only three years.”

The statement, supplied by Tony Thomas, of APT Planning & Development, notes a lack of suitable workspaces in the county for such businesses.

He said: “Around 30 students graduate from the school’s professional course annually and only a limited number of these graduates are able to launch their own businesses from the school’s workshops.

“At the end of their tenancy, these new businesses are often either forced to cease trading or to relocate out of East Lothian due to lack of suitable workspace and facilities within the county.

“The proposed site at Bolton Muir can provide the necessary scale in a secluded setting, whilst the close proximity to Gifford means that the Chippendale School will provide a regular feed of prospective tenants who have launched their businesses and need suitable facilities and space with which to continue growing and developing in the county.

“Several of the applicant’s existing colleagues who have fledgling businesses have expressed a strong willingness to become future tenants in the proposed workshop when their existing tenancies at Chippendale cease.”

Plans were first revealed last year for a workshop on the site.

Those proposals were withdrawn earlier this year and the new scheme shows the size of the studio proposed for Bolton Muir has shrunk by more than 40 per cent.

Now the site, which was also previously earmarked for holiday accommodation, could be transformed.

According to the application, a home was built on the land in the early 1950s and demolished in 2002.


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