Development Management: Overview

In the Scottish Borders the determination of applications for planning permission in respect of large scale developments, such as a housing development comprising 50 or more dwellings or where the development site exceeds 2 hectares, and which is significantly contrary to the local development plan, is a matter for the Council as a whole to consider.  The Planning and Building Standards Committee is responsible for deciding all other applications for planning permission but has delegated the determination of most applications to the Service Director Regulatory Services (Chief Planning Officer, Ian Aikman).  The Service Director is authorised to determine applications for planning permission for development, other than large scale developments, and any other application for consent, agreement or approval required by a condition imposed on a planning permission for a development, other than a large scale development, except where:

  • it is proposed to approve the application and the proposal is significantly contrary to the Development Plan;
  • it is proposed to approve the application and there are at least five letters of representation from separate households that raise material planning comments;
  • it is proposed to approve the application and there is a formal objection from a statutory consultee;
  • the Planning and Building Standards Committee decides to deal with the application itself; or
  • the application is submitted by an elected Member of the Council.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee consists of nine members, under the chairmanship of Councillor Tom Miers, member for Leaderdale and Melrose.  The Committee meets twelve times a year to consider those applications for planning permission that have not been delegated to the Service Director for determination.  In 2016/2017, the council decided 635 planning applications and granted 177 other consents, including 91 listed building and conservation area consents and 30 advertisement consents; 95% of all applications were approved (the Scottish average was 94.2%).

In 2016/2017, the Planning and Building Standards Committee considered 37 applications for planning permission.  Two appeals to Scottish Ministers, against the refusal of planning permission by the Committee, were decided by Reporters appointed by Scottish Ministers (one was upheld and one was dismissed).  96.9% of all applications were delegated to the Service Director (Chief Planning Officer) for decision (the Scottish average was 95.3%).  Twenty-nine of these decisions were appealed and went to the Local Review Body for a review of the decision.  The Local Review Body, which is comprised of the nine members of the Planning and Building Standards Committee and is chaired by the chairman of that committee, conducts reviews of applications for planning permission that have been refused, granted subject to conditions or not determined within the prescribed period (usually 2 months) by the Service Director, i.e. the Chief Planning Officer.  In 2016/2017, the Local Review Body, which also met twelve times, overturned 16 of the original 29 decisions by the Service Director; only 44.8% of the original decisions were upheld.

Notable refusals of planning permission by the Planning and Building Standards Committee in 2017 include a residential development of 38 dwellings on Marchmont Road, Greenlaw, Berwickshire; a proposed windfarm of eight turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, Berwickshire (contrary to the officer’s recommendation); and the Council’s own proposed waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, Galashiels (also refused contrary to the officer’s recommendation).  The refusal of planning permissions for the residential development at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw and the proposed wind farm development at Howpark, Grantshouse are the subject of appeals to the Scottish Ministers.

The proposal for a waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, Galashiels, refused planning permission in April on the grounds that the Langshaw Road (C77) is inadequate for the additional traffic likely to be generated by the proposal, is now the subject of an amended application submitted on 17 August 2017.  According to the Transport Statement, which accompanies the application, a review of improvement options for the Langshaw Road has been carried out and a series of measures have been identified, which it is hoped will satisfy the Planning and Building Standards Committee.  We shall have to wait and see!

Follow this website to see how applications for planning permission are dealt with in 2017/2018.  There will be a monthly report on planning applications received by the Scottish Borders Council, and decisions made, together with updates on appeals to the Scottish Ministers.

Author: douglas hope

Over fifty years experience in town and country planning, including twenty-one years with the Borders Regional Council (1975-1996) and twenty years with the Scottish Government as a Reporter for the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals.