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).

Development Management: October 2019 Update

During October 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.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and 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.

However, in Galashiels, a major housing development at Beech Avenue in Easter Langlee comprises the demolition of a number of the flatted properties built in the 1960s and their replacement by approximately 100 new dwellinghouses by Waverley Housing (SBC Ref: 19/01488/PAN).  A public consultation event in Langlee Primary School is planned for 29 November 2019 between the hours of 1.00pm and 7.00pm.

At the northern extremity of the region, a Scoping Report has been submitted to Scottish Ministers under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for a revised wind farm proposal, comprising 14 turbines up to 145m high to the blade tip, at Clioch Forest between West Linton and Eddleston in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 19/01489/SCO).  The council has until 15 November to respond with comments on the proposed matters to be taken into account in the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposal.

In Peebles, following the refusal of planning permission for the original scheme by Eildon Housing and the dismissal of the appeal to the Scottish Ministers, a revised scheme has now been submitted for residential development comprising 22 flats at Tweedbridge, Peebles (SBC Ref: 19/01471/FUL).  The local community appears to be more relaxed about this proposal than the original scheme.

In Coldstream, a proposed caravan park to the south of the Health Centre on Kelso Road is causing a great deal of support and objections amongst the local population (SBC Ref:19/01454/FUL).  Blackadder Caravan Park Ltd, which operates a caravan site in Greenlaw with some 175 static pitches is seeking consent for a holiday caravan and camping park comprising 140 pitches for caravans and 20 pitches for camping/glamping.  The applicant has been working with the community for some years to facilitate the community’s vision for the town.  A pre-application consultation in May 2019 generated a great deal of interest and objection.  A public event in June attracted some 100 people.  It will be interesting to see how the Planning and Building Standards Committee deal with this major application bearing in mind the split opinion of the local community.

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 October, 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.  A Certificate of Lawful Proposed Use or Development was granted on 4 October for the re-opening of the Caravan Park at Bonchester Bridge (SBC Ref: 19/00952/CLPU).  The caravan site closed in 2003 when plans for a housing development on the site was drawn up but subsequently withdrawn.  Planning permission was granted on 9 October for the use of land adjoining the Border Toyota Garage at St. Boswells as a demonstration/training area for electric and driverless cars (SBC Ref: 19/00945/FUL).  A novel idea which could put the Borders at the forefront of future sustainable travel.

Four applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in October: (i) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse on land north east of Maxton House, St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 19/01178/PPP); (ii) the installation of replacement windows to the front elevation of Lauder Cottage, Skirling, Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 19/01160/FUL); (iii) the erection of scaffolding with advertisement hoarding at Kirkburn Church, Peebles (SBC Ref: 19/01050/ADV);  and (iv) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Auburn Cottage, Ashkirk (SBC Ref: 19/01000/PPP).

At its meeting on 7 October, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the removal of restrictions on Sunday shooting at the Bisley at Braidwood Shooting Range, near Midlem for a temporary period of 9 months despite the concerns of a number of nearby residents (SBC Ref: 19/00932/FUL).  It will be interesting to see if problems arise in relation to the impact of noise from the range during this period and whether, in due course, an application will be submitted to make the Sunday opening hours permanent.  The Committee also granted planning permission for the erection of 13 dwellinghouses on land close to the tennis club on Hillside Terrace (the A7) in Selkirk much to the consternation of nearby residents concerned about the speed of traffic on the A7, even though it is within the 30mph limit, and the safety of the access to the site (SBC Ref: 19/00074/FUL).

The local Review Body on 21 October 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 the detailed design of a proposed dwellinghouse at Dundas Cottage, Hopehouse, Selkirk on the grounds that the development would not relate sympathetically to the character of the surrounding area and the neighbouring built form (SBC Ref: 19/00521/AMC).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, two 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).

Development Planning Update: October 2019

As reported in my June update, Scottish Ministers rejected the Strategic Development Plan for South East Scotland (SESplan2), which includes the Scottish Borders, in May.  On 16 May, the Scottish Government’s Chief Planner announced that Scottish Ministers were not satisfied that SESplan2 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 was 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.

As anticipated, this decision has led to uncertainty about housing land supply targets and housing land requirements for south east Scotland as a whole and for each of the six constituent planning authorities.  At its meeting on 2 September, the Scottish Borders Council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee considered how to deal with this uncertainty.  The report to committee explained that, following the decision of Scottish Ministers, senior officers of the constituent authorities had met to discuss a way forward.  Counsel’s opinion had been sought on the chances of success of a judicial review of the decision but the chances of this succeeding were limited.  Accordingly, officers had advised that a consistency of approach to speculative development was required until such time as progress had been made on a regional spatial strategy for the region, which would supersede the strategic development plan under the new development plan system proposed in the new Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.

This approach suggests that when assessing development proposals for sites not allocated for development in local development plans, member authorities should have regard to the following:

  • The provisions and requirements of policies 7, 8 & 9 of the approved Strategic Development Plan (SDP1), which address housing land supply, transport and infrastructure provision;
  • The level of housing provision allocated and/or safeguarded in adopted local development plans;
  • Updated information from the latest Housing Land Audit; and
  • The Housing Needs and Demand Assessment 2015.

The Scottish Ministers decision to reject the proposed SDP also has major implications for the progress of the Proposed Local Development Plan for the Scottish Borders (LDP2) and for the review of the local development plans of the other planning authorities within the SESplan area.  Scottish Borders Council’s Development Plan Scheme, approved in March 2019, indicates that the Proposed LDP2 would be published towards the end of 2019 with formal consultation during the winter of 2019/2020.  Whilst officers of the council are no doubt continuing to progress the proposed LDP2, 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!’

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 received Royal Assent on 25 July 2019.  In an effort to simplify the development planning process, the 2019 Act 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 set out in the RSS.

The 2019 Act also introduces provisions for Local Place Plans (LPPs), produced by local communities, which set 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.  Research carried out by the Royal Town Planning Institute (Scotland) indicates that a considerable amount of funding will be required to facilitate the production of LPPs.  Support in terms of skills and resources will need to be provided to communities by planning authorities if LPPs are to be effective.

In addition to the introduction of regional spatial strategies and local place plans, the new Act places 49 new and unfunded additional duties on planning authorities.  How these duties are to be implemented has yet to be detailed but additional funding and staff resources are likely to be required if the planning service is to continue to function.  Is central funding from the Scottish Government to be increased?  A formal programme for implementing the Act is awaited from the Scottish Government!  However, one of the first aspects of the reformed system to be implemented will be the preparation of a new National Planning Framework (NPF4) by the Scottish Government.  This will now form part of the statutory development plan along with local development plans.

So a number of major changes in the planning system are afoot.  The implementation of the Act though secondary legislation and guidance will take some time (years!).  Meanwhile planning authorities will have to continue to deliver an efficient and effective development planning and management system.  Not an easy task!

 

 

Development Management: September 2019 Update

During September 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.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and 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.

At the southern fringes of the region, in Newcastleton, the Newcastleton & District Community Trust (NDCT) has plans to restore and secure the re-use of Buccleuch House in the centre of the village, built in c.1850 by the Duke of the Buccleuch for community use (see SBC Ref: 19/01315/FUL).  It has been used as a club house, meeting rooms, a craft & resource centre and as a home to a small enterprise.  However, over time it has fallen into disrepair and needs a complete overhaul.  The NCDT plans to upgrade the building to provide, on the upper floor, bunkhouse accommodation for between 10-16 people to cater for the growing walking/cycling market.  On the ground floor, there would be a learning centre, meeting rooms and office space.  It is also proposed to provide on the land attached, a community laundry and secure bike lockers.  Newcastleton Business Forum wholly supports the project but objections, as well as letters of support, have been submitted and it will be interesting to see how this application progresses.

At the northern fringes of the region, in Peeblesshire, another interesting application relates to the erection of 15 huts on land east of Wester Deans, near West Linton (SBC Ref: 19/01256/FUL).  The applicant, Urban Animation, has obtained planning permission for similar developments at Saline and Falkland in Fife in support of the 1000 Huts Campaign launched in 2011 in response to a growing demand from a wide range of people to revitalise the hutting culture in Scotland.  In July 2017, the Scottish Government adopted new Building Regulations to enable hut building without a building warrant.  Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) defines a hut as “A simple building used intermittently as recreational accommodation (i.e. not a principle residence); having an internal floor area of no more than 30m²; constructed from low impact materials; generally not connected to mains water, electricity or sewerage; and built in such a way that it is removable with little or no trace at the end of its life.  Huts may be built singly or in groups”.

The application site forms part of North Clioch Wood and extends to some 5 acres.  Formerly a Forestry Commission Sitka spruce plantation, the site was cleared in 2009 and sold to the current owner, who has undertaken a replanting programme to create a mixed woodland.  Fifteen huts are proposed, each located within a 20 metre square plot, served by a group car parking area.  The huts would be finished with natural timber boarding, have a rectilinear shape and pitched roof finished in green recycled cellulose sheeting.  Heating would be from a wood burning stove; there would be no electricity supply but PV cells could be used to generate low voltage electricity for lighting.  Dry composting toilets would be located in each hut; no mains drainage or septic tank is proposed.  There would be no public water supply to the site.

It will be interesting to see what the local community and council officials make of this somewhat novel proposal for, if approved, there may well be a demand for further similar developments in this part of the Scottish Borders where, in the past, hut sites have been widespread and common-place and still exist at Eddleston, Soonhope, near Peebles and Carlops.

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 September, 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.  One proposal perhaps stands out; the conversion of Castle Venlaw Hotel in Peebles into residential apartments.  On 6 September, the Chief Planning Officer issued planning consent for the partial demolition and conversion of Castle Venlaw Hotel into eight residential apartments and the erection of three flats in the grounds (SBC Ref: 18/01287/FUL & 18/01286/LBC), known as scheme 2, which had been approved by the Planning and Building Standards Committee in March.  A simultaneous application for listed building consent for internal and external alterations to the building to form 11 residential apartments, known as scheme 1 (SBC Ref: 18/00181/LBC) had been referred to Scottish Ministers for determination because of objections from Historic Environment Scotland but this application has now been withdrawn.

Eight applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in September: (i) an application for the erection of two dwellinghouses on land north-east of 10 Railway Court, Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 19/01146/PPP); (ii) the demolition of an existing dwellinghouse and erection of a replacement dwellinghouse at Woodside Farm, Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00965/FUL); (iii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Newton Farm, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/00874/FUL); (iv) the erection of a fence at Denholm Mill, Denholm (SBC Ref: 19/00857/FUL); (v) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Carlenrig Farm, Teviothead, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00514/FUL); (vi) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Stow Road, Lauder (SBC Ref: 18/01766/PPP); (vii) the installation of replacement windows at 5-1 Sandbed, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00203/FUL); and (viii) the formation of a bus depot at Rhymers Avenue, Earlston (SBC Ref: 18/01018/FUL).

At its meeting on 2 September, the Planning and Building Standards Committee refused two major applications: (i) the development of a holiday park comprising 52 holiday lodges, reception/shop and office on land north west of Willowdean House, Foulden in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01479/FUL).  The proposal had attracted a great deal of objection and, although the Chief Planning Officer had recommended that the application be approved subject to 15 conditions, the Planning and Building Standards Committee decided to refuse planning permission (by a vote of 6 to 2) 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 local roads.  As a result, the proposed development would be inconsistent with the landscape characteristics of the area and would lead to unacceptable adverse impacts on pedestrian and road safety.  The Committee also refused planning permission for the erection of 57 dwellinghouses on land north east of Berwickshire High School in Duns (SBC Ref: 18/01635/FUL).  The southern half of the site is located within the 1 in 200 year functional floodplain and the eastern part of the site is also at the risk from flooding from an existing culvert and run-off from the main road (the A6105).  The Committee also considered that the proposals were over-engineered and did not create a clear sense of place; the external materials proposed were inappropriate; and there was inadequate landscaping to integrate the development with its surroundings.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee did, however, approve plans for the multi-million pound hotel, petrol station with food kiosk and drive-through café at Tweedbank, against the wishes of many hoteliers in Melrose.  The Borders Gateway development comprises a 71 bed Premier Inn, a BP petrol station and Marks & Spence food kiosk and Costa Coffee drive-through café (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL).  The original proposals had also included a large discount food retail unit but this was removed in response to objections and concerns about the impact on existing town centres.  Attracting a Premier Inn to the region has been an ambition of the council for some time and although the Galashiels community would have preferred a site in Galashiels, a site at Tweedbank has the advantage of good road and rail access.  The proposals attracted over 177 supporting comments and only 15 objections.  Councillors considered that the proposed hotel would cater for a different market to the hotels in Melrose.  Although the Chairman of the committee voiced concerns that the site occupied land identified for business and office purposes and moved that the application be refused, the committee voted by 6 votes to 2 votes to approve the application as per the Chief Planning Officer’s recommendation.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee also made a somewhat contentious decision in respect of a condition attached to the erection of a dwellinghouse in the village of Heiton, near Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00593/FUL).  The condition, attached to a planning permission granted in April 2016, required that an existing right of way which passes along the northern side of the site be maintained open and free from obstruction in the course of development and in perpetuity and shall not form part of the curtilage of the property.  No stiles, gates, steps or barriers to access should be erected to deter or hinder future pedestrian, horse rider or cyclist use.  However, large gates have been fitted at either end of the path through the house site and CCTV cameras monitor its use.  The application requested the removal of the condition from the planning consent and the applicant argued that it was not a relevant planning matter; rights of way are protected in terms of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.  Much to the consternation of many local residents and users of the path, the committee approved the application to remove the planning condition on the grounds that rights of way legislation exists to uphold public access rights and there was no longer a planning purpose of the condition.  However, the committee reiterated that the removal of the condition does not alter the status of the claimed right of way and should not be regarded as support of any proposal to extinguish and divert the path, which would require a separate request under the Land Reform Act.  Watch this space!

The Local Review Body on 16 September considered three 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 erection of three holiday lodges at Hallrule Farm Cottage, Bonchester Bridge (SBC Ref: 18/01680/FUL).  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse at The Rest, Murrayfield, St. Abbs in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01654/FUL) and for the use of land at Milkieston Toll House, Peebles as a dog walking facility (SBC Ref: 18/01161/FUL).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, much to the annoyance of householders at Coopersknowe, Galashiels, the appeal by Eildon Housing Association, for the erection of 69 dwelling units at Coopersknowe, Galashiels was upheld on 25 September (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2075).  Some compensation for Eildon for the loss of its appeal against the refusal of planning permission for 40 flats at Tweedbridge, Peebles?

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).

 

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!