Development Management Update: March 2021

In March 2021, some 150 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees, were received.  The vast majority of applications related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses, and works to trees. 

Perhaps the most significant application is in Galashiels, where a planning application has now been received for phase 2 of the proposed residential development, comprising 69 dwellings, at Buckholm Corner (SBC Ref: 21/00417/FUL).  This proposal was the subject of a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) in May 2020.  The site is allocated for residential development in the adopted local development plan [and has been since the 1970s].  All of the housing would be social rented properties, owned and managed by Eildon Housing Association.

An interesting, and perhaps rather sad application, in Peeblesshire relates to the change of use of the Old Bakehouse Restaurant in West Linton into two flats (SBC Ref: 21/00473/FUL).  I well remember visiting the Old Bakehouse tearoom in the 1970s and it has been a popular venue ever since.  Unfortunately, times change and it has been on the market for over five years.  It is owned by the proprietors of the Gordon Arms public house in West Linton [the only public house in the village] and both premises have been badly affected by the COVID Pandemic.  They consider that the public house is of more benefit to the community and propose to merge the restaurant into the public house.  It will be interesting to see the community reaction to this proposal.

Also in Peeblesshire, an application for the erection of 4 glamping pods at Glenormiston, west of Innerleithen has generated a great deal of interest from both supporters and objectors (SBC Ref: 21/00382/FUL).  Clearly, such accommodation would be attractive to visitors with the vast network of mountain bike trails and walks in this area of the Tweed Valley.  However, there are also deep concerns from existing residents in the area on a number of issues.  The decision on this application may well be finely balanced.

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.

The number of applications determined by the Chief Planning and Housing Officer under delegated powers in March, at 110 decisions, is again well below the number of applications received.  The backlog continues to grow as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.  Perhaps one proposal to pick out would be the change of use of Netherurd House, near Blyth Bridge in Peeblesshire from a residential institution to a private house (SBC Ref: 21/00026/FUL).  The original house was built in the 1790s and was gifted to the Scottish Girl Guide’s in 1952.  It has been used by the Girl Guide Association Scotland [Girlguiding Scotland) as a training centre until it closed in March 2020.  It is to be returned to a family home.

Only four applications were refused by the Chief Planning and Housing Officer under delegated powers in March: (i) erection of a dwellinghouse, east of The Bungalow, Edington, Chirnside in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 21/00045/FUL); (ii) erection of a dwellinghouse at Rachan Woodlands, Broughton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 21/00030/PPP): erection of a dwellinghouse at 63 Brownsmuir Park, Lauder (SBC Ref: 21/00016/PPP); and (iv) erection of a dwellinghouse at Kilnknowe House, East End, Earlston (SBC Ref: 20/01334/PPP).

At its meeting on 1 March, conducted remotely by Microsoft Teams, the Planning and Building Standards Committee agreed to object to the proposed wind farm at Castleweary, Fawside, near Hawick, an application submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 (as amended) (SBC Ref: 19/00756/S36).  The grounds for objection related to the impact of the proposal on landscape character, visual amenity, the visual impact of aviation lighting and archaeological impacts.  The committee, however, decided to approve a variation of conditions attached to the consent for a wind farm at Braidlie, near Hawick, which had been granted planning permission by Scottish Ministers on appeal, to allow the commencement of development prior to the approval of a Radar Mitigation Scheme (SBC Ref: 18/01456/FUL).

At is meeting on 29 March, conducted remotely by Microsoft Teams, the Planning and Building Standards Committee approved a major development that will, if implemented, transform Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 19/00210/PPP).  It was back in 1948 that Sir Frank Mears, in his Regional Plan for Central and South East Scotland, postulated the development of Newtown St. Boswells as an administrative hub for the Borders Region, with housing, offices, agricultural college and hospital.  In 1968, Professor Johnson-Marshall of Edinburgh University, in his Government sponsored report The Central Borders: a Plan for Expansion, proposed that Newtown St. Boswells be the focus for a ‘New Town’ of 10,000 people, in addition to the planned development of Tweedbank.  With strong resistance from the burgh councils, particularly Hawick and Jedburgh, nothing came of this proposal and there has been little development in Newtown, even though it has been the administrative centre for the region since 1975.  Now it seem there is a possibility that Newtown could develop into some kind of rural hub with the granting of planning permission for the redevelopment of the auction mart to provide a mixed use development of housing, retail, offices, hotel, light industry and leisure facilities.  Let’s hope that this proposal is economically viable and not just a pipe-dream.  There is no timescale for the proposal.

At its meeting on 15 March, the Local Review Body considered two appeals against the refusal of planning permission by the Chief Planning and Housing Officer for (i) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Balcladach, Easter Ulston, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 20/00956/PPP); and (ii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Whinneybrae, Skirling in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 20/00923/PPP).  In both cases, the LRB upheld the Chief Planning and Housing Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.

In relation to appeals to Scottish Ministers, to the obvious relief and satisfaction of the local community, the appeal against the council’s refusal of planning permission for the erection of 52 holiday lodges on land north west of Willowdean House, Foulden in Berwickshire was dismissed on 18 March 2021 (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2081).  In dismissing the appeal, the Reporter considered that, despite the efforts to make the design a high quality development, he considered that the proposed development would have a damaging landscape and visual impact.  He considered that the opportunities to benefit the local economy were limited and the countryside location to be non-compliant with the expectations of policy ED8 of the local development plan.

In relation to the compulsory purchase order for 2 High Street/12 Market Place, Jedburgh, one objection remains outstanding and, accordingly, a [virtual] public local inquiry is programmed for 5 May 2021 (DPEA Ref: CPO-SBD-011).  Two other appeals are outstanding: (i) an appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the erection of 2 dwellinghouses at 8 Ballantyne Place, Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2087; and (ii) an appeal against the non-determination of a planning application for the erection of 22 dwellinghouses on land east of Edinburgh Road, Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2088).

A decision is also awaited on the application under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 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.