Development Management: April 2021 Update

In April 2021, a massive 180 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees, were received.  This must be an indication that the Covid-19 Pandemic is coming to an end; a false dawn [let’s hope not].  The vast majority of applications related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses, and works to trees. 

The effects of the restrictions imposed by the Scottish Government during the pandemic will no doubt impact on the long-term future of some of the hospitality venues in the Borders.  Perhaps a first indication is the planning application to change the use of the former Tweedside Hotel in Innerleithen into a dwellinghouse (SBC Ref: 21/00701/FUL).  Another application for the conversion of the public house/night club at 5 Vault Square, Kelso into 14 flats may well be another example (SBC Ref: 21/00673/FUL).

Proposals for wind farms keep coming.  The latest is a Section 36 application for the Teviot Wind Farm at Priesthaugh, east of Teviothead and south west of Hawick (SBC Ref: 21/00629/SCO).  The proposal comprises some 75 wind turbines up to a height of 220m to blade tip, with several having a reduced height of 180m to blade tip.  This is a major development and the decision on the proposal will eventually be made by the Scottish Government following consultation with a wide range of bodies, including Scottish Borders Council.  SBC and the local community may well not be happy with that!

However, perhaps the most significant planning application this month (and this year) is the screening request in relation to the environmental impact of the proposed Galashiels Community Campus; an application by jmarchitects on behalf of the council itself (SBC Ref: 21/00511/SCR).  The site includes the existing Galashiels Academy and grounds, Scott Park and the existing Galashiels Swimming Pool and car park.  This is just the very first stage in the planning process and it looks as though it may well be a tortuous one for there is a considerable momentum building amongst objectors to the loss of a [large or small?] part of Scott Park for the development.  Although the Galashiels members on the council appear to be unanimous in their support for the preferred option, the ‘Friends of Scott Park’ is gaining support for its opposition to development on any part of Scott Park, an area gifted to the burgh in 1939.

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 April, at 113 decisions, is again well below the number of applications received.  The backlog continues to grow as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.  The most exciting planning  permission granted this month is that for the proposed redevelopment of the fish market in Eyemouth (SBC Ref: 21/00055/FUL).  Permission for the demolition of the existing building, a concrete portal-framed structure constructed in the 1960s, was granted in November last year.  The fish market had been converted into a maritime museum, in the form of a galleon, in 2005 but has been lying empty since 2016.  It is generally accepted that the building has little architectural or historic merit and detracts from the character and appearance of the harbour area.  Eyemouth Harbour Trust has received funding from the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Council to construct a new building on the site as part of the Eyemouth Waterfront Regeneration Project in a bid to ‘re-imagine’ the harbour side.  It is hoped that this development will be the catalyst for other projects to modernise the harbour area.  The proposed development comprises a series of pavilions designed to reflect the traditional gable design of the harbour frontage.  The ground floor of each pavilion would provide space for local businesses, craft shops, a food hall, and community use such as exhibitions, senior and after-school activities.  This is no doubt a significant development in terms of the transformation of the harbour area and of Eyemouth, which has seen its status change as fishing has declined.

Six applications were refused by the Chief Planning and Housing Officer under delegated powers in April: (i) erection of a dwellinghouse on land west of Westwater, West Linton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 21/00285/PPP); (ii) erection of a dwellinghouse at New Greenhill, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 20/00668/PPP): (iii) modification of a planning obligation to allow additional housing at Wester Ulston, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 21/00047/MOD75); (iv) proposed replacement windows and door at Linden Causewayend, Ancrum, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 20/00962/FUL); (v) the erection of perimeter security fencing at a store and year at Acredale Industrial Estate, Eyemouth (SBC Ref: 20/00809/FUL): and (vi) installation of billboard signage at Lidl, Wilton Path, Hawick (SBC Ref: 20/01544/ADV).

In relation to appeals to Scottish Ministers, two appeals remain 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).  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 was held on 5 May 2021 (DPEA Ref: CPO-SBD-011). 

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.

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