Development Management: November 2019 Update

During November 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 118 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.

An interesting proposal in the centre of Galashiels is for the conversion of first floor offices above W H Smith and the Post Office on Channel Street to from 3 flats and the refurbishment of 2 flats on the second floor (SBC Ref: 19/01659/FUL).  Another application seeks planning permission for the change of use of shop premises at 101 High Street to form two dwellinghouses (SBC Ref: 19/01623/FUL).  There are a number of similar properties in Galashiels town centre where there are opportunities to realise the potential residential use of upper floor premises; surely a welcome development in helping to revitalise and re-invigorate the town centre.

In Selkirk, a planning application for residential development on 1.8 acres of land at Ettrickhaugh Road envisages the erection of 6 dwellinghouses on land previously liable to flood (SBC Ref: 19/01687/PPP).  The site is now protected by the Flood Protection Scheme.  Nevertheless, measures are proposed to alleviate any further risk of flooding, such as raising the floor levels and building the house in flood resilient materials.  It will be interesting to see the council’s reaction to this proposal.

In the Ettrick Valley, Ettrick & Yarrow Community Development Company is proposing the erection of two dwellinghouses, and the change of use of the existing steading and alterations to provide three dwellings and five business units at Kirkhope Farm, near Ettrickbridge (SBC Ref: 19/01633/FUL).  All part of the development company’s attempt to re-invigorate the Valleys.

An intriguing application for the Mosspaul Hotel on the A7 at the boundary between the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, requests planning permission to change the use of the hotel to a venue for private parties and functions (SBC Ref: 19/01597/FUL).  Apparently, its use as a venue for stag and hen parties has been going on for a number of years, with anti-social behaviour a common feature, much to the consternation of near neighbours in Mosspaul Bothy.  Once upon a time, the Mosspaul Hotel was a popular overnight stop on the A7 but the days of the country inn seem to be over.  The use of a large private dwelling in West Linton for similar purposes was recently turned down and enforcement action taken to prevent its further use for short term visitor accommodation because of the unacceptable impact on neighbouring householders (see SBC Ref: 18/00074/UNUSE and DPEA appeal ref: ENA-140-2013).  An interesting comparison?

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.

During November, some 130 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Again, the vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Four applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in November: (i) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at 25 Princes Street, Innerleithen (SBC Ref: 19/01356/PPP); (ii) the erection of a boundary fence at Goslawdales, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 19/01254/FUL); (iii) the erection of a tree house holiday let at Sandystones, Ancrum, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/00812/PPP); and (iv) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Town O’Rule, Bonchester Bridge (SBC Ref: 18/01194/FUL).

At its meeting on 4 November, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Berwickshire on a split vote (SBC Ref: 18/01620/FUL).  The surrounding area hosts a number of large poultry units and a number of local residents voiced concerns about the scale of the proposed development and the cumulative effect of the proposed and existing sites on their residential amenity.  The Chief Planning Officer, however, had no issue with the scale of the proposed development and considered that the mitigation measures proposed were sufficient to prevent unacceptable adverse impacts on residential amenity.  By 6 votes to 2, the Committee agreed.  The Committee also had no issue with a retrospective application for the erection of a general purpose agricultural/equestrian building at Old Greenlaw, outside Greenlaw in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 19/01142/FUL).

Much to the consternation of 20 residents in the village, who opposed the proposal, the Committee also approved the erection of two dwellinghouses at West Lodge, Minto in Roxburghshire (SBC Ref: 19/00947/FUL).  Whilst local residents considered that the suburban nature of the design of the proposed houses was out of character with this historic village, following a site visit the Committee, by 5 votes to 2, decided to approve the application.

At the same meeting, the Committee considered a report on the impact of the relaxation of the core activity area policy (policy ED4), which restricts non-retail uses in some of the region’s town centres.  This report indicates that during the trial period of one year, in which the core activity area policy for Hawick was removed and that for Galashiels relaxed, a total of 11 applications for changes of use to retail premises were approved.  However, the majority of these changes of use would, most likely, have been approved anyway and the report indicates, therefore, that the relaxation of the policy has had little effect.  Nevertheless, the Committee agreed that the relaxation of core activity policy should continue, meantime, until the finalisation and approval of the new local development plan, which will set out future town centre policy.

The local Review Body on 18 November considered one appeal against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for proposed uPVC replacement windows at 5-1 Sandbed, Hawick on the grounds that they would have a significant adverse an unacceptable visual impact on the character of the building and would be highly detrimental to the character and appearance of the Hawick Conservation Area (SBC Ref: 1900203/FUL & 19/00026/RREF).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, an appeal has been received against the serving of an enforcement notice in respect of the erection of a 1.8m high fence on land at Silver Grange, Old Greenlaw Farm, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2014).  Two other appeals remain outstanding: (i) the long-standing appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the construction of a wind farm comprising 7 turbines up to 132 metres high to tip height on land at Barrel Law, north west of Roberton (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072); and (ii) the appeal against the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot, which has been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine following a successful challenge to the Court of Session to the Reporter’s decision, dated 7 February 2019, to approve the application (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068-1).

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain outstanding: (1) the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills; and (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).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July last year (2018).  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, an inquiry is to be held in relation on an application for an expansion of the Crystal Rig Wind Farm in the Lammermuirs, comprising the addition of 11 turbines to the existing 90 turbines (DPEA Ref: WIN-140-8).

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.