Development Management: January 2020 Update

During January 2020, Scottish Borders Council received some 100 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.  Three applications relate to tourism and leisure development.

A re-application has been received for the erection of 52 holiday lodges on land north west of Willowdean House, Foulden in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 20/00067/FUL).  A similar application was refused planning permission by the Planning and Building Standards Committee on 2 September 2019, against the recommendation of the Chief Planning Officer to approve the application subject to conditions (SBC Ref: 18/01479/FUL).  The application was refused on the grounds that the proposed holiday lodges were not of the highest quality, were not in keeping with the local environment and would have an unacceptable adverse impact on the local infrastructure, specifically the capacity of local roads.  The supposed aim of the re-submission is to address the committee’s reasons for refusal.  If the list of objections already received is any indication, it is unlikely to allay the local community’s fears.

An appeal to the Scottish Ministers against the decision of the Planning and Building Standards Committee to refuse the previous application was received by the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) on 2 December 2019 and declined as being out of date [it should have been received within 3 months of the decision to refuse planning permission, i.e. before 2 December 2019].  No doubt, should the re-application be refused, an appeal will be submitted to DPEA more timeously.

Elsewhere in Berwickshire, an application has been received for the erection of 8 glamping pods at Buskin Farm, Coldingham (SBC Ref: 20/00040/FUL).  In commenting on the proposal, Visit Scotland emphasises that tourism is acknowledged by the Scottish Government as being central to the success of the Scottish economy and the Scottish Borders is predominantly a leisure tourism destination.  Visit Scotland supports developments that provide a quality experience and would contribute to the area becoming a sustainable year round destination.  It will be interesting to see how this and the Foulden application are assessed against these criteria.

In Roxburghshire, an application has been received for an extension to the Riverview Holiday Park at Mangerton, Newcastleton (SBC Ref: 19//01815/FUL).  The holiday park was established in 2002 when planning permission was granted for 37 holiday caravan pitches.  In 2015, planning permission was granted to allow the site to operate on a year round basis but for holiday use only.  The site has proved very popular and the submitted application requests planning permission for 17 holiday pods.  According to the applicant, camping and caravanning is an important lever for the Scottish economy, and this is particularly important in remoter rural areas such as Newcastleton.  The application is supported by the council’s economic development officer, who considers that it fits with the Scottish Borders Tourism Strategy 2013-2020 by increasing the volume of overnight visitors.  Can any comparisons be made with the Foulden application?

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 January, 111 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.  Perhaps of most interest is the decision to grant planning permission for the change of use of the Mosspaul Inn to a venue for private parties and functions (SBC Ref: 19/01597/FUL).  In November’s report, reference was made to the application for the historic Mosspaul Inn on the A7 at the boundary between the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, which once upon a time was a popular overnight stop on the A7.  But the days of the country inn seem to be over.  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.  Nevertheless, the Chief Planning Officer has decided to grant planning permission for the proposed change of use, without reference to the Planning and Building Standards Committee, subject to two lengthy and detailed conditions (which I shall not repeat here).  As regards the alleged anti-social behaviour, the Chief Planning Officer has chosen not to attach any conditions limiting the use of the hot tub, which has been the main cause of concern, or relocate the BBQ and seating area further from the neighbouring property, or place any restrictions on the noise nuisance from music, but simply request that the applicant take these concerns into account in the future operation of the business.  It will be interesting to see if this ‘polite’ request proves adequate to allay the neighbour’s fears.

Six applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in January (all relate to the erection of dwellinghouses): (i) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Blyth Bridge, Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 19/01645/FUL); (ii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Tarf House, West Linton, Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 19/01646/PPP); (iii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Ashiestiel, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 19/01629/PPP); (iv) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Cowdenknowes, Earlston (SBC Ref: 19/01611/FUL); (v) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Plot 1, Mounthooly House, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 13/01081/FUL); and (vi) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Plot 2, Mounthooly House, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 13/01082/FUL).

At its meeting on 13 January, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the erection of a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant and retail store (B & M Bargains) on Commercial Road, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00509/FUL).  The planning permission is subject to clearance from the Scottish Ministers due to the site’s location within the River Teviot floodplain.  The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has maintained its objection to the proposal on the grounds of potential flood risk until such time as the Hawick Flood Protection Scheme, which is underway, has been completed.  It will be interesting to see what decision the Scottish Ministers come to.

The Local Review Body on 20 January considered four appeals against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse on Stow Road, Lauder (SBC Ref: 18/01766/PPP) and for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Dodlands, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/01358/PPP).  The LRB reversed the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a replacement dwellinghouse at Hoprigshiel Farmhouse, Cockburnspath, Berwickshire and granted planning permission subject to conditions and a legal agreement in respect of agricultural occupancy (SBC Ref: 19/00590/FUL).  The LRB continued consideration of the appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the erection of two dwellinghouses at Heriot (SBC Ref: 18/01777/FUL).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, two appeals remained outstanding at theend of January: (i) 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); and (ii) an appeal 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).  The enforcement notice requires the fence extending beyond the front elevation of the property to be removed or reduced in height to a maximum of 1 metre.  This appeal was dismissed on 5 February and the enforcement notice was upheld subject to the time for compliance being increased from 1 month to 3 months.

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 2018.  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, an inquiry is to be held in relation to 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).  The Inquiry will take place at the Volunteer Hall, Duns, commencing at 10.00am on Tuesday 10 March 2020.

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.