During August 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received 121 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees. Two applications for residential development in Peebles have already generated a number of objections/comments from neighbouring residents; the erection of two blocks of flats comprising 40 residential units at Tweedbridge Court (SBC Ref: 18/01086/FUL) and the erection of 71 dwellinghouses on land south of the South Park Industrial Estate (SBC Ref: 18/01026/FUL).
The proposal for affordable housing by Eildon Housing Association at Tweedbridge Court occupies the site of the former Blackwood Housing sheltered housing scheme. The proposal to erect two four-storey blocks of flats on the banks of the Tweed is causing some concern about the impact of the development on the iconic view from the Tweed Bridge. Watch this space.
The site of the proposed 71 dwellinghouses by Persimmon Homes is allocated for 50 residential units in the local development plan. It was the subject of a Proposal of Application Notice in April 2017 (SBC Ref: 17/00587/PAN). No details of the proposal were submitted with the PAN, which intimated that details of the proposed development would be available at a forthcoming public consultation event but no date, time or location for the event was provided. The pre-application consultation event proposed in the PAN did not take place until 10 July 2018 (publicised in the Peeblesshire News on 29 June 2018) more than a year after the submission of the PAN. The subsequent planning application was submitted on 6 August 2018. A number of concerns have already been raised by the local community, in particular, to the increased number of houses proposed and the suitability of Tweed Bridge and Caledonian Road to accept any further housing in this area south of the river.
This application is a perfect illustration of the uncertainties surrounding the Proposal of Application Notice procedure for large-scale developments. As related in my March 2018 Development Management update, according to the Scottish Government’s Planning Circular 3/2013 on Development Management Procedures, a Proposal of Application Notice must contain an account of what consultations the applicant intends to undertake, when such consultation is to take place, with whom and what form it will take. The Scottish Government wishes to encourage improved trust and open, positive working relationships from the earliest stages in the planning process and to provide, where possible, an early opportunity for community views to be reflected in proposals. The purpose of pre-application consultation is, therefore, to improve the quality of applications, mitigate negative impacts where possible, address misunderstandings, and air and deal with any community issues that can be tackled so that the proposals benefit from that engagement and assist the efficient consideration of applications once submitted.
However, as in this case, some applicants are somewhat reticent in providing all the information required by the Regulations and PANs fail to specify when and where the required public event is to take place but leave it flexible. A notice of the proposed public event must also be published in a local newspaper circulating in the locality at least 7 days before the holding of the public event and, as in this instance, this was the first intimation of the precise date, time and location, of the proposed public event. Consequently, one has to question whether the public have had sufficient opportunity to engage with the developer and also the extent to which community views have been taken into account in framing the proposals when the planning application was submitted less than a month after the public event.
No doubt, both these proposals will figure on a future agenda of the Council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee. Check out the council’s Public Access Portal if you want to find out more about the above applications or any other application submitted in the past month.
There were no meetings of the Planning and Buildings Standards Committee or the Local Review Body in August but some 114 applications were dealt with by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers. Seven applications were refused; six applications for planning permission and a retrospective advertisement application:
- Erection of two dwellinghouses at Stainie Brae, Lower Greenhill, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 18/00832/PPP);
- Erection of dwellinghouse at Ladywood, Lower Greenhill, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 00929/PPP);
- Change of use of a shop to a mortgage advisers at 37 Bank Street, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 00764/FUL);
- Change of use and alterations of a steading to form a dwellinghouse at Billerwell Farm, Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/00745/FUL);
- Alterations and extensions to the property ‘Rockmount’ at Mountain Cross, Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 18/00711/FUL); and
- Siting of a cabin for holiday let on land at Meadshaw Farmhouse, Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/00724/FUL).
- Advanced sign for Woll Golf Course at main crossroads in Ashkirk village (SBC Ref: 18/00916/ADV);
Although the Planning and Buildings Standards Committee agreed on 16 July to the relaxation of its Town Centre Core Activity Area Policy as it applies to Galashiels for a period of one year (see post on ‘Town Centre Policy: Amendments to practice for processing planning applications, July 2018’), the Chief Planning Officer decided on 2 August 2018 that the change of use of 37 Bank Street from a shop to a mortgage advisers was not permissible under the Pilot Scheme because it offered an inactive frontage and low footfall. An appeal to the Local Review Body would make for an interesting discussion.
In relation to appeals received by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA), it is worth pointing out (because such appeals are relatively scarce) that an appeal was submitted on 13 August against the refusal of works to trees at Glenkinnon Wood in the Tweed Valley near Peel, Clovenfords (DPEA Ref: TWC-140-1; BRC Ref: 18/0621/TPO). Tree works applications make up a significant proportion of applications to the Planning Department and this may not be the first refusal of Tree Works Consent issued by the Chief Planning Officer but it certainly was the first Tree Works Consent appeal in the Scottish Borders. However, I shall not be able to report on its outcome for the appeal was quickly withdrawn on 23 August, ten days after it was submitted!
During August, the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) reached a decision on the appeal against the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2069). Much to the ire of the local community, this appeal has been upheld and planning permission has been granted subject to 35 conditions. In granting planning permission, the Reporter concluded that, although the proposed development would have localised and limited impacts on landscape and visual amenity and on archaeological assets, cumulative visual impacts would not be sufficient to reject the proposal. He also considered that whilst there would be impacts on the amenity of nearby residential properties, these would not be to an extent which would breach the test which has been applied by Scottish Ministers in a similar case. He was not persuaded by the evidence relating to the adverse effects of the development on tourism in this part of the Borders or specific tourism businesses. He considered that other potential impacts could be appropriately managed through planning conditions and other control regimes. In relation to the campaign for a Scottish Borders National Park, he attached little weight to this possible development, which is in the very early stages of investigation.
Five other appeals remain to be decided by the DPEA: one appeal is against the imposition of two conditions to a planning permission, granted by the council on 26 March 2018, for the erection of two wind turbines on land at No. 6 Lamberton Holdings in Berwickshire. The appealed conditions relate to the requirement to decommission and remove the turbines within 25 years (SBC Ref: 17/01348/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2071). The site inspection is programmed for the 12 September 2018.
Four appeals remain to be determined against the refusal of planning permission: (1) for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068); (2) for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (3) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); and (4) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).
The hearing session in connection with the application by Eildon Housing Association for residential development at Huddersfield Street, Galashiels, which was called-in for determination by Scottish Ministers in view of the possible flood risk (SBC Ref: 17/00695/FUL) (DPEA Ref: NA-SBD-054) was held on Wednesday 15 August in the Waverley Suite at the Transport Interchange, Galashiels.
Three wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remain outstanding: (1) the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills; (2) the application to extend the operational life of the existing Fallago Rig wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) (DPEA case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6); and (3) an application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick (DPEA case reference WIN-140-7). The Reporter’s reports in relation to the two Fallago Rig applications have been submitted to Scottish Ministers and their decision is awaited. The Reporter dealing with the Birneyknowe wind farm application hopes to be in a position to submit his report to Ministers during September.