Development Management: August 2019 update

During August 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 120 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  Large scale developments are few and far between at the moment, a reflection of the general malaise in the building industry.

In Kelso, a planning application has now been submitted for the change of use and conversion of the former High School to form 34 Extra Care flats and the erection of 47 dwellinghouses on the grounds (SBC Ref: 19/01244/FUL).  The proposal was the subject of pre-application consultation (PAN) in November 2018.  The public drop-in event held on 22 November 2018 was attended by over 40 people and the proposal, including the introduction of private housing, appears to have been well received.  The extra care housing, by Eildon Housing Association, will be 100% affordable housing for rent part funded by the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Council.

In Peebles, a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) has been submitted for the development of 22 houses on land at Venlaw Farm to the east of Edinburgh Road (SBC Ref: 19/01239/PAN).  The proposal differs from the previously refused application in that it is intended to be a full application with details of the layout, house positions and house types.  The proposed public event that is required as part of the pre-application consultation process is to be held in the Peebles Burgh Hall on 25 September.  Watch out for the advert in the Peeblesshire News, which must be posted at least 7 days in advance of the public event.

Also in Peeblesshire, an application has been submitted for a screening and scoping opinion to assess the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment in relation to a proposed extension to Edston Quarry, west of Peebles (SBC Ref: 19/01180/SCR & 19/01180/SCO).  The proposal is to extend the life of the quarry for around 22 years with restoration.   It will be for officers of the council to decide whether an EIA is required in respect of this major development and the issues that any EIA should address.  A Proposal of Application (PAN) will be submitted in due course setting out a scheme of public consultation on the proposals, including a public consultation event.

At the western extremity of the region, close to Biggar, a proposal to convert Hartree House back to a hotel is causing concern amongst immediate neighbours for a number of reasons, principally the lack of an adequate access and noise from the existing permitted use as a wedding venue (SBC Ref: 19/01116/FUL).  A small housing development that is causing concern amongst the local community is the proposal for the erection of 4 dwellinghouses at The Orchard in Newstead, Melrose (SBC Ref: 19/01138/FUL).  A variety of concerns have been expressed in relation to the design and layout of the houses, the loss of trees and the protection of historic features on this site within a historic conservation village.  In Denholm, a proposal for the erection of 12 dwellinghouses at Jedward Terrace is also causing some consternation amongst neighbouring householders (SBC Ref: 19/01135/FUL).

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 August, some 120 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.  A particularly significant decision for the local community, after over a year’s deliberation, is the granting of planning permission and listed building consent for the partial demolition, internal and external alterations and extension to the former Crook Inn in Peeblesshire to form a community hub comprising café, office and ancillary facilities, and bunkhouse (SBC Ref: 18/01342/FUL).  Let’s hope that this community initiative is successful and it is not too long before the plan is implemented.  I shall look forward to visiting the new hub in this beautiful part of the Tweed Valley.

Only two applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in August: an application for listed building consent to demolish a 19th century cart shed and former granary building at Winfield Farm in Berwickshire on the grounds that it had not been demonstrated that the building could not be retained (SBC Ref: 19/00479/LBC); and an application for the erection of two dwellinghouses in Heriot village on the grounds that the siting and design of the houses is unsympathetic to the surroundings and the inadequacy of the access (SBC Ref: 18/01777/FUL).  At its meeting on 5 August, the Planning and Building Standards Committee also refused planning permission for two dwellinghouses at The Granary, Blyth Bridge in Peeblesshire on the grounds that the proposed houses did not relate sympathetically to the character of the surrounding landscape (SBC Ref: 19/00758/PPP & 19/00759/PPP).  The Committee granted planning permission for the erection of seven dwellinghouses at Orchard Park, Gattonside, Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/01795/FUL).

The Local Review Body (LRB) on 19 August considered a number of appeals against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.  The LRB overturned the officer’s decision and granted planning permission for the following proposals: the erection of four dwellinghouses on land at Thornwood Lodge, Weensland Road, Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/01671/FUL); and the reinstatement of two windows in lieu of air conditioning units at Deans Bar, 3 Orrock Place, Hawick (SBC Ref: 17/01368/FUL).  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for: the erection of a dwellinghouse at Beechwood, Pyatshaw, Lauder (SBC Ref: 19/00358/PPP); the erection of a dwellinghouse at Lilybrooke, West Flemington, Eyemouth (SBC Ref: 19/00330/FUL); the erection of a porch at 2 Deloraine Court, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00386/FUL)

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, it will be no surprise that the appeal against the council’s refusal of a request to issue a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use in respect of the residential use of the property ‘Glenacre’ at Camptown, south of Jedburgh has been upheld (SBC Ref: 19/00339/CLEU; DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2003).  In deciding to grant a certificate of lawful use for residential purposes, the Reporter was satisfied that there was comprehensive and consistent evidence that the B&B/guest house use ceased at the end of 2013, and that the property had been in residential use in excess of fours since the B&B/guest house use ceased.

Two other appeals remain outstanding: (i) an appeal in relation to the proposal, by Eildon Housing Association, for the erection of 69 dwelling units at Coopersknowe, Galashiels (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2075) and (ii) 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).  The appeal against the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot has been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine the appeal 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).

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).

 

Development Management: July 2019 Update

During July 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 140 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees, of which there were 19 applications; a considerable workload for the council’s solitary Tree Officer.  The vast majority of applications, however, related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Large scale developments are few and far between at the moment, a reflection of the general malaise in the building industry.

In the Central Borders, an innovative proposal, submitted for land west of the Toyota Garage at St. Boswells, involves the provision of a demonstration area for electric and driverless cars (SBC Ref: 19/00945/FUL).  I wonder how long it will be before we see such cars on Border roads?  Next, we’ll be putting them on rails!

In Hawick, proposals have been put forward for the replacement of the Lawson footbridge, near the High School (SBC Ref: 19/01080/FUL) and Victoria Bridge on Commercial Road (SBC Ref: 19/01081/FUL).  Both are related to the flood protection works planned for Hawick and to the proposed 2.5m wide cycleway through the town, part funded by SUSTRANS.  Other works include the replacement of Mansfield Bridge (SBC Ref: 19/01083/FUL) and the creation of a pedestrian/cycle underpass at Waverley Bridge (SBC Ref: 19/01082/FUL).

In Jedburgh, proposals to demolish property at the corner of Exchange Street and High Street are causing a stir (SBC Ref: 19/01063/LBC).  The property, encased in scaffolding for some time, is now considered unfit for rehabilitation and renovation [not fit for purpose is the modern term!].  Is this the prospect for other properties in town centres such as Jedburgh or can the council’s attempts to preserve the viability and vitality of town centres also revive the run-down traditional buildings of many Border town centres.

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 July, 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.  The development of affordable housing in the Scottish Borders continues to expand with the granting of planning permission for the erection of 49 affordable dwellinghouses on land at Angraflat Road, Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00185/FUL) and for the erection of 50 affordable houses on land south and west of Ayton Primary School in Ayton, Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01804/FUL).

Residents in Coopersknowe and Melrose Gait may not be entirely happy with the grant of planning permission for the permanent retention of the 82 storage containers located at Farknowes on the Langshaw Road, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 19/00839/FUL).  The original temporary consent, which expires on 19 September 2019, was imposed to allow the impact of the development on the road system to be monitored.  In granting consent, the Chief Planning Officer considered that there were no grounds for refusing the permanent retention of the containers in respect of visual amenity or impact on the road system, subject to the submission of a maintenance scheme for the containers and a tree planting scheme.  It will be interesting to see if these conditions are properly and effectively imposed and implemented; an on-going issue when planning permissions are granted subject to conditions that require future action.

Five applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in July; three related to the erection of single dwellinghouses: at Eshiels House, Eshiels, Peebles (SBC Ref: 19/00694/FUL); at Hoprigshiel Farmhouse, Cockburnspath (SBC Ref: 19/00590/FUL); and at Dundas Cottage, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 19/00521/AMC).  One was related to the extension of a dwellinghouse at 30 Mossilee Crescent, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 19/00787/FUL).  In Hawick, Planning permission was refused for the use of the former gas works building on Mansfield Road as a hot food takeaway (SBC Ref: 19/00504/FUL).  The site is outwith the town centre within a Safeguarded Employment Zone.

At its meeting on 1 July, the Planning and Building Standards Committee, somewhat controversially, granted planning permission for the erection of 28 dwellinghouses on land at The Croft, Dingleton Road, Melrose, much to the consternation of many local residents (SBC Ref: 18/01385/FUL) [there had been over 130 objections].  Whilst many members of the Committee expressed reservations about the scale and design of the proposed development, only one member spoke against it.  The site is allocated for housing development in the current local development plan with an indicative capacity of 25 dwellings [a previous planning brief for the site indicated the site had a capacity for some 45 dwellings but the Reporter who examined objections to the current local development plan in 2016 reduced this figure to 25 dwellings].  Nevertheless, the design and layout of the development was a matter for the Planning and Building Standards Committee to decide upon.  Although concerns were raised regarding the visual impact of this proposal on the slopes of the Eildon Hills, a National Scenic Area, and the impact of traffic on Dingleton Road, the Committee were satisfied that the proposed development was acceptable.

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, the appeal against the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot has been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine the appeal 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).  The Reporter’s decision to uphold the enforcement notice against the change of use of the property ‘Greenloaning’ on the Loan, West Linton from a residential dwelling to short-stay commercial visitor accommodation, dated 25 April 2019, has also been challenged with an appeal to the Court of Session.  Watch this space for further news!

Much to the surprise and satisfaction of the local community, the appeal against the refusal of planning permission for two blocks of residential flats, comprising 40 units, at Tweedbridge Court, Peebles, a proposal by Eildon Housing Association, was dismissed on 23 July (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2076).  In dismissing the appeal, the Reporter considered that the overall height and mass of the proposed buildings and the urbanised character of the development would contrast starkly with its setting and the wider character and appearance of the Peebles Conservation Area.  The Reporter concluded that the design and scale of the proposal was inappropriate in this location.  Consequently, although the proposed development would make an important contribution to affordable housing provision and the site was a brownfield site allocated for residential development, the Reporter considered that the proposed development would appear incongruous in this location and detract from the character and appearance of the riverside area of the town.

Three other appeals remain outstanding: (i) an appeal in relation to the council’s refusal of a request to issue a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use in respect of the residential use of the property ‘Glenacre’ at Camptown, south of Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/00339/CLEU; DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2003); (ii) an appeal in relation to the proposal, by Eildon Housing Association, for the erection of 69 dwelling units at Coopersknowe, Galashiels (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2075) and (iii) 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).  A hearing into certain aspects of this appeal was held on 6 August in the Forman Hall, Roberton, commencing at 10.00am.  Closing submissions are expected by 21 August.

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).

 

Development Planning Update: June 2019

Scottish Borders Council updates its Development Plan Scheme annually.  Its latest update was considered at the Council meeting on 28 March 2019.  The update confirms that preparation of the new Scottish Borders Local Development Plan (LDP2) is well under way.  The Main Issues Report (MIR), an important stage in the preparation of a local development plan, was the subject of a 12 week consultation period that closed on 31 January 2019 and in excess of 300 consultation responses were received.  The update points out that ‘It is important that the council now moves swiftly in the preparation of the Proposed Plan to ensure the Scottish Borders maintains an up-to-date Development Plan’.  It suggests that the Proposed LDP2 would be published towards the end of 2019 with formal consultation during the winter of 2019/2020.  Unfortunately, this update was written and presented to the council before the decision of the Scottish Ministers, in May 2019, to reject the Strategic Development Plan (SDP), SESplan2, with which the Proposed LDP2 must comply.

 At the time the MIR was finalised, the decision of Scottish Ministers on SESplan2 was still awaited.  The MIR was prepared to reflect the key objectives of the proposed SDP and stated that the Proposed LDP2 would take account of the provisions of SESplan2 and any amendments made by Scottish Ministers.  The Scottish Ministers decision to reject the proposed SDP has major implications for the progress of the Proposed LDP2 and for the local development plans of the other planning authorities within the SESplan area.  Any delay will affect the statutory requirement of planning authorities to produce adopted local development plans within a 5-year cycle [SBC’s existing local development plan was adopted in May 2016].  The planning authorities within the SESplan area are currently discussing this matter and seeking guidance as to how this matter should be resolved.

There is, therefore, some uncertainty as to when the Proposed LDP2 will be presented to the council for approval.  In the meantime, a report on the outcome of the public consultation on the MIR during the period November 2018 to January 2019 was presented to the council on 26 June.  This lengthy report details the representations received and the wide range of opinions expressed.  The highest number of objections related to proposals in Peeblesshire, particularly those for Peebles and Eshiels.  Opposition was also made to proposed housing sites at Netherbarns, Galashiels; Harmony Hall in Melrose; on land south of Darnlee in Darnick; and to sites in Ednam, near Kelso and Eddleston in Peeblesshire.  Some representations suggested that existing undeveloped sites allocated in the adopted local development plan should be removed from the new local development plan.  On the other side of the coin, 43 new sites were suggested by third parties for inclusion in the local development plan.  These sites are currently being examined.

Clearly, officers of the council will be continuing to progress the proposed LDP2 but it is a matter of conjecture as to when the Proposed LDP2 will be submitted to the council for approval.  Scottish Ministers have certainly put ‘the cat amongst the pigeons!’  What must be of most concern for the council is the fact that the Planning Bill, passed by Scottish Ministers on 21 June and expected to receive Royal Assent and pass into law by mid-July, in an effort to simplify the development planning process, abolishes strategic development plans (SDPs) and replaces them with regional spatial strategies (RSS), a long-term spatial strategy document.  Unlike SDPs, the RSS will not form part of the development plan.  LDPs must, however, take into account matters such as housing need, the availability of housing land, and the health and education needs of the local population.  Furthermore, before preparing a LDP, planning authorities must invite local communities to prepare a Local Place Plan (LPP) setting out their priorities for the development and use of land in the local area.  The LPP will not form part of the development plan but must be taken into account by the planning authority in the preparation of the LDP.

So, Scottish Borders Council will have a lot to think about in the forthcoming months and years.  How long will it take for the planning authorities in south-east Scotland to produce a regional spatial strategy (RSS)?  Can and will SBC progress its LDP2 in advance of the preparation of a RSS for south-east Scotland.  Will any LPPs be produced in advance of the finalisation of the Proposed LDP2 or will they have to wait until the next local development plan.  Watch this space!

 

Development Management: June 2019 update

Scottish Borders Council’s annual performance review for 2018/2019 shows that during the year 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 the council decided 1,369 planning applications (compared with 1,307 in 2017/2018).  In relation to householder developments, the council took on average 7.2 weeks to determine the applications, which is in line with the Scottish figure.  The council took, on average, 8.1 weeks to determine non-householder developments, compared with a Scottish figure of 10.4 weeks.  During June 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 116 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.

On the tourism front, in Peeblesshire, a planning application has been received for the erection of 26 holiday lodges on the Barony Castle Estate, outside Eddleston (SBC Ref: 19/00916/FUL).  A decision on the application for a proposed major leisure development at Rutherford House, near West Linton (SBC Ref: 19/00153/FUL), submitted in March 2019, remains outstanding and is unlikely to be made before October.  At the other end of the region, a planning application has been submitted for a major extension to the Roxburghe Hotel at Heiton, near Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00876/FUL).  The proposed extension comprises some 60 bedrooms, restaurant, spa and conference facilities and includes an external spa garden and terracing.  This proposal forms part of a wider investment, which includes refurbishment of the existing 22 bed hotel and the erection of 60 lodges, which have the benefit of planning permission.

In the Central Borders, an interesting development at Tweedbank, is the proposal by Tempest Brewing Company to expand their business with the erection of a new brewery building, including offices, shop and bar space, on the site of the former Eildon Mill and Units A & B on the industrial estate (SBC Ref: 19/00815/FUL).  Meanwhile, a decision is awaited on the proposal for a mixed use development, including a hotel, restaurant with drive-thru facility and petrol filling station with a shop on site, proposed for the site previously ear-marked for a B & Q retail warehouse (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL).  This application, submitted in October 2018, has been revised to omit the originally proposed retail food store in response to comments received.  It remains to be seen whether the amended proposal will gain the support of the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee; the opinion of Tweedbank residents is divided on the issue.  All those who made representations on the original proposals have been re-consulted on the revised proposals and a decision is unlikely before the September meeting of the Planning and Building Standards committee.

In Berwickshire, applications have been submitted for the erection of 10 new dwellings and 12 small business units on two sites at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw.  One application relates to the erection of 8 business units and the conversion of existing poultry sheds to form a further 4 business units on the site of the former poultry farm on Marchmont Road, Greenlaw (SBC Ref: 19/00913/FUL).  A second application relates to the erection of 10 dwellinghouses on land west of the poultry farm (SBC Ref: 19/00870/PPP).  The whole site was previously granted planning permission, on appeal, for the erection of 38 dwellings (SBC Ref: 16/01360/PPP; DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).  Applications have also been received for the erection of 5 dwellinghouses on a site off the Duns Road in Greenlaw (SBC Ref: 19/00809/PPP & 19/00810/FUL).

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 June, some 100 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  In Hawick, planning permission has been granted for the demolition of the former Armstrong’s [Almstrong’s] department store (SBC Ref: 18/01419/CON) and its replacement by a new building providing office accommodation for up to 17 small businesses.  This will be a welcome development in support of the council’s efforts to sustain the viability and vitality of Hawick’s town centre.

In Melrose, planning permissions have been granted for two innovative proposals; for the conversion of the former water tank on Dingleton Road, Melrose to a dwellinghouse (SBC Ref: 18/00386/FUL), and for the conversion of the former boiler house at Dingleton Hospital to form 5 flats (SBC Ref: 17/01632/FUL).  This concrete structure, built in 1977 and designed by well-known architect, Peter Womersley, was in danger of falling into disrepair following the closure of Dingleton Hospital.  Along with the Gala Fairydean stand, the SBC office building in Newtown St. Boswells built for Roxburgh County Council and the former Bernat Klein Studio outside Selkirk (perhaps his most celebrated work, which is also in danger), this structure illustrates the brutality of his modernist style, which combined the use of concrete with strong geometric lines.  Not necessarily loved by today’s generation, these structures epitomise the optimism of the late 1950s and 1960s.

Only three applications were refused planning permission in June by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers: (i) for the erection of a dwellinghouse at West Flemington, Eyemouth in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 19/00330/FUL); (ii) for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Langton Mill Cottages, Duns in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01695/PPP); and (iii) for the erection of a porch on the front elevation of 2 Deloraine Court, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00386/FUL).  At its meeting on 3 June, the Planning and Building Standards Committee continued consideration of an application for the erection of 50 dwellings on land south west of Ayton Primary School in Ayton, Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01804/FUL).  On 17 June, the Local Review Body (LRB) considered two applications for a review of the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission under delegated powers; the LRB overturned the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the part change of use of a barn at Mid Softlaw Farm, Kelso to a vehicle body repair and paint shop (SBC Ref: 18/01071/FUL; 19/00009/RREF).  The LRB also overturned the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the erection of two dwellinghouses on land at Cowdenburn Cottages, near West Linton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 18/01469/PPP; 19/00010/RREF).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, the appeal in relation to the serving of an Amenity Notice for the removal of two shed structures, a van and various items from land west of Gallowberry Bank, Blyth Bridge, near West Linton in Peeblesshire was dismissed on 19 June (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV: DPEA Ref: ANA-140-2004).  As expected, an appeal has been submitted in relation to the council’s refusal of a request to issue a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use in relation to the residential use of the property ‘Glenacre’ at Camptown, south of Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/00339/CLEU; DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2003).

Three other appeals remain outstanding: (i) an appeal against the refusal of planning permission for two blocks of residential flats, comprising 40 units, at Tweedbridge Court, Peebles, a proposal by Eildon Housing Association (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2076); (ii) an appeal in relation to the proposal, also by Eildon Housing Association, for the erection of 69 dwelling units at Coopersknowe, Galashiels (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2075) and (iii) 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).  A hearing into certain aspects of this appeal is to be held on 6 August in the Forman Hall, Roberton, commencing at 10.00am.

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).

 

Development Management: May 2019 Update

During May 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 120 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  In Berwickshire, the proprietor of the Blackadder Holiday Park in Greenlaw has submitted a Proposal of Application Notice for a proposed holiday caravan and camping site on land to the south of the A698 on the outskirts of Coldstream (SBC Ref: 19/00743/PAN).  A Public Event is to be held at Coldstream Community Centre on the High Street in Coldstream on Thursday 20 June, with a presentation to stakeholders and local businesses from 2.00pm-4.00pm and a drop-in public session from 4.40pm-8.00pm.

The council received notification of another application for a proposed wind farm comprising 49 wind turbines at Fawside, south of Teviothead, some 11 miles south-west of Hawick, which straddles the border between the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway Councils (SBC Ref: 19/00756/S36).  With an installed capacity greater than 50 MW (actually, 315 MW) the application has been submitted to Scottish Ministers under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989.  Scottish Borders Council is, therefore, a consultee and not the decision maker on this application.  Community consultation on the Fawside proposal, including consultation with community councils, commenced in 2017.  More recently, public exhibitions have been held in Teviothead and Langholm.  The applicant believes that the consultation process has improved the quality of the proposal.  It will now be for Scottish Borders [the Planning and Building Standards Committee] to decide what comments it wishes to make.

Interestingly, on 29 April 2019, SBC objected to a S36 application for the erection of 11 turbines as an extension to the Crystal Rig windfarm in the Lammermuir Hills on the border between Scottish Borders and East Lothian Councils on the grounds that the red aviation lights required would have an adverse visual impact and an adverse impact on landscape character (SBC Ref: 18/00768/S36).  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).

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 May, some 128 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Five applications were refused planning permission, four of which relate to the erection of dwellinghouses: (i) the erection of a dwellinghouse on land at 3/4 Gilston Cottages, Heriot (SBC Ref: 19/00429/FUL); (ii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Pyatshaw, Lauder (SBC Ref: 19/00358/PPP); (iii) the erection of four dwellinghouses on land west of Thornwood Lodge, Weensland Road, Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/01671/FUL); and (iv) the erection of a dwellinghouse on Murrayfield, St. Abs (SBC Ref: 18/01654/FUL).  Planning permission was also refused for the formation of an off-street parking area at 1 Balnagowan Road, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 19/00544/FUL).

The council also refused a request to issue a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use in relation to the residential use of the property ‘Glenacre’ at Camptown, south of Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/00339/CLEU).  A previous application (SBC Ref: 18/00849/CLEU), refused on 28 August 2018, was the subject of an appeal to Scottish Ministers.  The appeal was dismissed on 5 December 2018 and the issue of a certificate was refused, largely due to the lack of evidence that the residential use of the property had commenced more than four years before the date of the application for the certificate.  This further application asserts that the property has been used solely as a dwellinghouse since January 2014, during which time no enforcement action has been taken by the council.  Nevertheless, the council has again refused the issue of a certificate.  No doubt, another appeal to Scottish Ministers is inevitable.

There was no meeting of the Planning and Building Standards Committee during May.  On 27 May, the Local Review Body (LRB) considered three applications for a review of the Chief Planning Officer’s decision that had been continued from the previous meeting on 15 April 2019.  These related to: (1) the erection of a dwellinghouse on land at Maxwell Street, Innerleithen (SBC Ref: 18/00728/PPP; 19/00001/RREF); (2) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Lamberton in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/00961/FUL; 19/00006/RREF); and (3) the installation of windows in lieu of air conditioning units at Deans Bar, Orrock Place in Hawick (SBC Ref: 17/01368/FUL; 19/00005/RREF).  The LRB again continued consideration of these appeals pending the receipt of further information.

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, an appeal has now been submitted against the refusal of planning permission for two blocks of residential flats, comprising 40 units, at Tweedbridge Court, Peebles, a proposal by Eildon Housing Association that caused considerable concerns amongst the Peebles community leading to a refusal of planning permission by the Planning and Building Standards Committee on 4 February 2019 on the grounds that the proposed development was of a scale, mass, height and density inappropriate to its surroundings on the banks of the river Tweed within Peebles Conservation Area (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2076).

An appeal has also been submitted, as anticipated, in relation to the erection of 69 dwelling units at Coopersknowe, Galashiels.  This proposal by Eildon Housing Association has also proved controversial and was refused planning permission on 7 February 2019 on the grounds that the proposed development would constitute over-development that would create a significant adverse impact on the public road serving the site, the C77 Langshaw Road (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2075).

The appeal against the refusal of listed building consent for the installation of replacement windows in ‘The Honey House’, Longformacus in Berwickshire was dismissed on 17 May 2019 (DPEA Ref: LBA-140-2005).  In dismissing the appeal, the Reporter agreed with the council that the replacement uPVC windows would be discordant and incongruous features that would adversely impact on the character and appearance of the listed building.

Two other appeals remain outstanding: (1) the 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 (SBC Ref: 17/01255/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072); and (2) an appeal in relation to the serving of an Amenity Notice for the removal of two shed structures, a van and various items from land west of Gallowberry Bank, Blyth Bridge, near West Linton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV: DPEA Ref: ANA-140-2004).  A previous appeal was terminated in February 2019 following the withdrawal of the enforcement notice by the council (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV; DPEA Ref: ANAA-140-2001).

 

Strategic Development Plan (SESplan 2) Update: May 2019

Scottish Ministers have put development planning in the south east of Scotland, including the Scottish Borders, into a state of confusion with the rejection of the Strategic Development Plan (SESplan 2), submitted in June 2017.  On 16 May, the Scottish Government’s Chief Planner announced that Scottish Ministers were not satisfied that the Plan had been properly informed by an adequate and timely Transport Appraisal and that it did not take sufficient account of the relationship between land use and transport.  It is the view of Scottish Ministers that the Plan does not properly acknowledge and address the region’s infrastructure constraints to support the spatial strategy for delivering housing land across the area.  It does not include sufficient information on the transport interventions required to support the spatial strategy.

 The existing development plan in the Scottish Borders currently consists of the Scottish Borders Local Development Plan (LDP), adopted in May 2016 and the Strategic Development Plan produced by SESplan, a partnership of six local authorities in the south east of Scotland; Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, Fife, Scottish Borders and West Lothian, which was approved by Scottish Ministers in June 2013.

 SESplan 2 sets out an ambitious vision to guide the growth of the South East Scotland Region over the next twenty years.  For the next 12 years (2018-2030), SESPlan proposes that most growth will be largely met by land already identified in existing and proposed local development plans.  In the Scottish Borders, existing towns provide the focus for retail, commercial and strategic employment opportunities.  The potential future expansion of the Borders Rail line to Hawick and beyond could provide further opportunities for growth and regeneration in the Central Borders and Hawick.  On the East Coast Main Line, a new station at Reston would provide settlements in Berwickshire with easier access to employment and education opportunities in Edinburgh and stimulate tourism in the area.  Dualling of the A1 and improvements to the A68 and A7 would improve journey times to and from England.

In relation to housing supply, SESplan 2 indicates that there is sufficient housing land supply to meet housing land requirement for the 2018-2030 period in the Scottish Borders based on the land supply set out in the Local Development Plan.  However, a step change in the level of house building is needed if housing supply targets are to be achieved and this may warrant the permitting of proposals for additional housing on sites not identified in the local development plan, subject to it being consistent with the spatial strategy of the development plan and a number of other criteria.  Additional housing land allocations are likely to be required to meet the housing land requirement for the period 2030-2038.  These will need to be made in new Local Development Plans.

The Examination of SESplan 2 by Reporters appointed by Scottish Ministers was undertaken in 2017/2018 and their report was submitted to Scottish Ministers on 20 July 2018.  The Reporters recommended a number of modifications to the Plan.  In relation to the spatial strategy, the Reporters recommended that the location of any additional sites to those identified in local development plans, that require to be identified for development in the period 2018-2030, should be in and around Edinburgh and along transport corridors.  In relation to Key Areas of Change in the Scottish Borders, the Reporters recommended that the Strategic Development Plan should give more emphasis to the fact that major flood schemes in Selkirk, Hawick and Galashiels will provide opportunities for growth and regeneration in the Central Borders.

In relation to housing targets, the Reporters increased the housing supply target for the Scottish Borders for the period 2018-2030 from 4,176 homes to 5,202 homes and the housing land requirement from 4,594 to 5,760 homes.  In relation to the five year effective housing land supply, where a shortfall is identified, sites for greenfield housing development not allocated in local development plans may be granted planning permission subject to the development being consistent with the spatial strategy of the development plan and a number of other criteria.

SBC’s review of its adopted local development plan, to date, has been very much influenced by the recommendations of the Reporters in relation to the housing requirements of SESplan 2.  The Main Issues Report (MIR) relating to the new Scottish Borders Local Development Plan (LDP2) was published in November 2018 and has been the subject of wide consultation.  A report on the representations received is expected soon and it was proposed in the council’s Development Plan Scheme of March 2019 that the proposed LDP2 would be published in the autumn/winter of 2019/2020.  With the rejection of SESplan 2, this programme has been placed in doubt.  It will be interesting to see how the council intends to proceed.

Whilst Scottish Ministers have been deliberating on SESplan 2, the Planning (Scotland) Bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 4 December 2017 proposes that Strategic Development Plans should be removed from the development plan system to be replaced by more proactive regional working partnerships.  So, the consequences of the rejection of SESplan 2 for the council’s new local development plan LDP2 remain uncertain.  It is open to the Strategic Development Planning Authority to prepare a new SESplan 2 but the implications of the Planning (Scotland) Bill complicate the matter.  We shall have to see what the planning authorities in South East Scotland decide to do.  The decision should raise considerable concern for the Scottish Borders Council in relation to the finalisation of its new local development plan.  Any delay would in its production would not be good news for developers or for the future development of the Scottish Borders Region.

 

Development Management: April 2019 update

During April 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 145 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  A number of applications requested planning permission for a variety of commercial uses within town centres.  In Kelso, a planning application proposes the change of use of part of 40 Bridge Street into a café/bistro to augment the existing deli (SBC Ref: 19/00568/FUL).  Another proposes the change of use of the Border Hotel/Guest House at 8-10 Woodmarket to a café and holiday apartment (SBC Ref: 19/00472/FUL).  In Melrose, an application requests planning permission for the change of use of a shop at 32 Market Square into an office (SBC Ref: 19/00510/FUL).

Perhaps of more significance, in Hawick, a planning application has been submitted for the erection of a retail store and restaurant with drive-thru and take-away facility on the site of a former car showroom on Commercial Road  (SBC Ref: 19/00509).  It is understood that the retail unit would be occupied by the relocated B&M Store together with the Border’s second McDonald’s drive-through fast-food restaurant.  In Galashiels, the bakery chain, Greggs, has applied for planning permission for the use of 25 Market Street, which is on the corner of Market Street and Green Street, as a bakery and café with outdoor seating (SBC Ref: 19/00528/FUL).

Applications for wind farms are a regular feature of these up-dates and a planning application has now been received for the erection of 8 wind turbines, up to 130m in height to blade tip, on land at Wull Muir, near Heriot, close to the northern boundary of the Scottish Borders (SBC Ref: 19/00191/FUL).  This proposal was the subject of a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) in September 2018 (18/01164/PAN).  Public exhibitions were held in Heriot and Temple (in neighbouring Midlothian) in September 2018.  According to the Pre-Application Consultation Report, after this initial consultation, a number of significant alterations were made to the proposed development and a further round of consultations was undertaken in February 2019.  To date, few objections have been received, perhaps a reflection of the success of the public engagement process.

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 April, some 130 planning applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Five applications were refused, including two applications for replacement windows and internal alterations at 25 High Street, Selkirk (SBC Refs: 19/00183/FUL & 19/00184/LBC).  In this case, the Chief Planning Officer considered that the replacement of the existing timber sash and case windows with Upvc tilt and turn windows would not be acceptable and could undermine the positive changes taking place in Selkirk Town Centre under the CARS scheme.  In Roxburghshire, planning permission was refused for the erection of three holiday lodges at Hallrule, Bonchester Bridge (SBC Ref: 18/01680/FUL) on the grounds that the development did not respect the amenity and character of the surrounding area.  In Peeblesshire, planning permission was refused for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Blyth Bridge (SBC Ref: 19/00194/FUL) on the grounds that the site lies within the countryside and the proposal does not relate to an existing building group.  An application for the use of agricultural land as a dog walking area, requiring the erection of a 6ft. high boundary fence, at Milkieston, north of Peebles (SBC Ref: 18/01161/FUL) was refused on the grounds that the access to the site off the A703 is sub-standard.

On 29 April, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the erection of 30m high telecommunications mast with associated equipment on the slopes of Deepdale Hill in the upper Ettrick valley.  The purpose of the mast is to assist with the Scottish Government’s strategy to provide 4G services to rural communities.  Although there were a number of objections to the height and location of the mast, on amenity grounds, there was overwhelming support for the proposal amongst the local community.

On 15 April, the Local Review Body (LRB) overturned the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse at the end of Caberston Avenue in Walkerburn (SBC Ref: 18/00681/FUL).  Three applications for a review of the Chief Planning Officer’s decision remain outstanding.  These relate to: (1) the erection of a dwellinghouse on land at Maxwell Street, Innerleithen (SBC Ref: 18/00728/PPP); (2) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Lamberton in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/00961/FUL); and (3) the installation of windows in lieu of air conditioning units at Deans Bar, Orrock Place in Hawick (SBC Ref: 17/01368/FUL).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, the appeals against the non-determination of the planning applications for the redevelopment of the March Street Mills site in Peebles for residential units (SBC Ref: 17/00063/PPP & 17/00064/CON) have been dismissed and planning permission refused.  In respect of the planning application, the Reporter concluded that, although the provision of 70 new houses on brownfield land is supported by planning policy, the relocation of the existing allotments was not acceptable.  In relation to the application for conservation area consent, the Reporter concluded that the current appearance of the existing mill buildings did not warrant their demolition and that, given there was no acceptable scheme for the redevelopment of the site, the demolition of the existing buildings would not accord with conservation area policy.  The appeal against the serving of an Enforcement Notice alleging the use of the property ‘Greenloaning’ on The Loan, West Linton for short stay visitor accommodation (SBC Ref: 18/00074/UNUSE; DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2013) has also been dismissed.  The Reporter considered that a change of use had been carried out without the required planning permission and that the council was not time-barred from taking enforcement action to terminate the change of use.  He also considered that the unauthorised use had an unacceptable impact on neighbouring properties and that the use should be terminated within two months of the enforcement notice taking effect.

Two other appeals remain outstanding: (1) an appeal against the refusal of listed building consent for the installation of replacement windows in ‘The Honey House’, Longformacus in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: LBA-140-2005); and (2) the 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 (SBC Ref: 17/01255/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072).  In addition, an appeal has been re-submitted in relation to the serving of an Amenity Notice for the removal of two shed structures, a van and various items from land west of Gallowberry Bank, Blyth Bridge, near West Linton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV: DPEA Ref: ANA-140-2004).  A previous appeal was terminated in February 2019 following the withdrawal of the enforcement notice by the council (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV; DPEA Ref: ANAA-140-2001).

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remained 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).