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).

 

Peeblesshire County Planning in the 1960s and 1970s

Arrangements continued with Midlothian County Council in relation to the processing of planning applications until 1975; the staff of the county planning department, principally Charles Mackenzie, provided planning advice to the County Clerk and the Town Planning Committee.  It was decided not to pursue a review of the county development plan approved in 1955 but to amend the approved development plan as necessary.  The rail link between Penicuik and Galashiels, via Peebles East Station, closed in February 1962 and the route for a link road and by-pass to the east of Peebles town centre, which had been the subject of intense deliberation during the preparation of the county development plan, was resolved.  The county council agreed to purchase the East Station and an amendment to the development plan was prepared showing the new road linking Edinburgh Road with Innerleithen Road along the former railway line, and the remaining part of the station allocated for car parking and a bus terminus.  The former marshalling yard at March Street was designated for industry.  Peebles West Station, closed in 1959, was designated for residential and commercial uses, including a site for a new fire station.

On the tourism front, the future of the various holiday huts sites continued to test the resolve of the council.  There was a continuing demand to replace huts and caravans, extend existing caravan sites and develop new sites.  Milk bars and tearooms/cafes became established at a number of rural locations on the main road routes through the county.  Peter Maxwell-Stuart opened up Traquair House to the public and obtained planning permission for a shop and tearoom in 1963.  The 1960s had truly arrived in Peebles when, in 1966, a hut situated between Tweed Green and the High Street was the unauthorised venue for a ‘Beat Club’ [a venue for popular 1960s music].  A similar proposal in Romanno Bridge was refused planning permission in 1968.  Refusals of planning permission were rare prior to the 1970s, for it was the practice of the council (along with the other councils in the Borders) to defer decisions on applications that were not acceptable in the hope that an acceptable compromise could be reached or that the application would be withdrawn because of the opposition.

A Landscape and Tourism Development Plan, prepared in 1965, reviewed the AGLV designation that covered the whole county in the approved development plan, and proposed more specific areas along the Tweed Valley, the Manor Valley and the Leithen Water Valley.  It also identified various tourism proposals, including car park/picnic sites and camping/caravan sites.  In 1968, the whole of the county was designated ‘Countryside’ under the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 allowing grants of up to75% for countryside projects such as car parking/picnic sites in the Meldon Hills, Leithen Valley, Manor Sware Viewpoint and Cademuir, and for the employment of a part-time Ranger.  Planning permission was granted in 1968 for a roadhouse hotel (the Pantiles) at West Linton, together with a touring caravan site.  On the outskirts of Peebles, planning permission was granted for the Countryside Inn (another roadhouse type facility) at Kirnlaw, near Glentress Forest.  In 1969, the Bakehouse Tearoom in West Linton became established as a popular Sunday destination for coffee & cake.  In response to the growing popularity of caravanning, Rosetta House and its grounds were purchased by the county council in 1969 for development as a caravan and camping site.

With population continuing to decrease and low unemployment, local textile manufacturers imported labour from Midlothian.  An overspill agreement was reached between Peebles Town Council and Glasgow City Council to overcome the labour shortage and attempts were made to attract male-employing industries.  Peebles town council purchased the March Street Marshalling Yard in 1964 and the first factory was erected in 1968 by Litsters, a photographic finishing company, followed by Fidelitone, manufacturers of record styluses, in 1970.  Land at South Park would be acquired for industry by the town council in 1970.  Sand and gravel working in the northern part of the county continued to expand as the economy grew in the 1960s.  At Shiphorns, over 400 acres of land at Darnhall was granted planning permission in 1967 for sand and gravel working over a 30 year period.  In 1969, planning permissions were granted for the extension of the existing workings at Nether Falla, for a new area on Portmore Estate and for a new site at Tarfhaugh, West Linton.

On the housing front, the expansion of Peebles continued south of the Tweed with SSHA and local authority housing at Kingsmeadows Gardens and private housing at Edderston Road and Gallowhill.  Private housing was also proposed on a number of fields at St. Ronan’s Terrace, Innerleithen, whilst the SSHA continued housing development at The Pirn.  In 1968, Peebles Town Council appointed its own planning consultant to advise on the growth potential of the town.  At the same time, the county planning officer produced a draft ‘Urban Structure Plan’ for Peebles (along the lines suggested in the Government’s PAG Report ‘The future of Development Plans’ published in 1965).  This draft Plan set out future areas of growth with major expansion to the north (opposite Rosetta House) for housing and industry and the redevelopment of the Cuddyside area north of the High Street, which proved to be a very contentious issue.

The 1970s saw the rate of private housing in the county increase with development in Peebles, at Edderston Road, Bonnington Road and Gallowhill, at St. Ronan’s Terrace, Well’s Brae and Leithen Road in Innerleithen and at Bogsbank Road and Linton Bank Drive in West Linton.  The increasing pressure for housing at West Linton, including proposals for a major housing development at ‘The Hiddles’, would lead to the establishment, in 1973, of the West Linton Residents Association, which would become an influential pressure group and a strong voice over the coming years against the further expansion of West Linton.  In Peebles, the proposed re-development of Damdale Mill and Damcroft for private housing would prove contentious.  Eventually purchased by the town council, this area would be re-developed for rented housing by the SSHA.  In response to proposals to widen Cuddy Bridge at the west end of the High Street and demolish “Bank House”, Peebles Civic Society was born in 1973 with the intention of creating a local organisation that would protect and enhance the Burgh’s built environment.

As local government re-organisation drew closer, proposals for private housing were made in such diverse locations as Eddleston, Romanno Bridge, Broughton and Blyth Bridge as well as Peebles, Innerleithen and West Linton.  Proposals for three sites on Station Road, West Linton, which were refused planning permission, would have trebled the population of the village.  The number of planning applications jumped from an average of 150 per annum in the 1960s (146 in 1970) to over 230 in 1973.  The population of Peebles increased by 500 persons between 1964 and 1974 as a result of its attraction as a retirement location and with Edinburgh commuters.  Housing would be a major issue for the new Borders Regional Council with pressure for more development at West Linton, Eddleston and south of the River Tweed in Peebles.

 

Development Management: March 2019 Update

During March 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 150 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  Perhaps the most significant application received relates to a proposed leisure development comprising 180 holiday lodges and associated facilities at Rutherford House, near West Linton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 19/00153/FUL).  A leisure development comprising 263 holiday lodges, 206 touring caravan pitches, 15 tree houses and 20 glamping pods and including a new leisure/clubhouse facility with swimming pool, gym, Jacuzzi etc. was the subject of a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) in February 2018 (18/00109/PAN).  Following public consultation, including exhibitions in April 2018 attended by almost 200 people, the proposals have been significantly reduced in an attempt to address the issues raised.  The number of lodges has been reduced from 263 to 180 and all the other forms of holiday accommodation have been removed.  The proposed village centre has been drastically reduced with the loss of facilities such as the bowling alley, cinema and hot food takeaway.  The proposed spa facility has been removed and the pub and restaurant provision scaled down.  It is early days in the processing of the planning application and it will be interesting to see if the changes made satisfy the concerns of the local community.

Elsewhere, a planning application for the change of house types and variation of the layout of a proposed development of twenty houses on a site at Horsburgh Ford, east of Peebles and close to the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, was received on 7 March (SBC Ref: 00332/FUL).  Planning permission was originally granted in October 2015 (SBC Ref: 14/00666/FUL).  In Stow, Stow Community Trust proposes to convert the former station house into a bistro and community facility including a bicycle repair workshop (SBC Ref: 19/00406/FUL).  The project has planning approval (SBC Ref: 18/00318/FUL) but the design of the proposed extension has been revised to better reflect the traditional design of the existing building.  At Camptown, south of Jedburgh, the owner of the property ‘Glenacre’ is seeking, once again, to obtain a Certificate of Lawfulness for the use of the property as a dwellinghouse (SBC Ref: 19/00339/CLEU).  The refusal of a previous application was upheld on appeal to the Scottish Government (DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2002) and it will be interesting to see if this attempt is successful.

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 March, some 140 planning applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Only three applications were refused planning permission: two applications for the erection of dwellinghouses on plots A & B on land south of ‘The Granary’ at Blyth Bridge in Peeblesshire (SBC Refs: 19/00023/PPP & 19/00025/PPP), and an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Cowdenknowes, near Earlston (SBC Ref: 18/00599/FUL).  The Chief Planning Officer considered that none of the proposed dwellinghouses complied with the council’s housing in the countryside policy.  There have been differences of opinion, in the past, between the Chief Planning Officer and the Planning and Building Standards Committee on how this policy should be interpreted and it is to be seen whether these decisions will be tested by appeal to the council’s Local Review Body.

On 4 March, the Planning and Building Standards Committee made three somewhat controversial decisions.  Planning permission was granted, against the wishes of many people in Peebles, for the erection of 71 dwellinghouses on land south of South Parks Industrial Estate (SBC Ref: 18/01026/FUL).  Although the site is allocated for housing in the adopted local development plan, the number of houses proposed exceeds the indicative capacity shown in the plan.  As well as concerns about the effect on residential amenity, perhaps the principal concern amongst the local population was the impact of traffic generated by the development on the road system, particularly Caledonian Road.  These concerns raise wider issues regarding the capacity of the existing Tweed Bridge and the mini-roundabout at the end of High Street to cope with the traffic generated by continued housing development south of the River Tweed.  Further housing development south of the Tweed and the provision of a second river crossing are matters raised in the Main Issues Report in connection with the review of the local development plan.  However, it will be the end of this year (2019) before the new local development plan (LDP2) is completed.  Many people in the local community question the desirability of allowing further development south of the river until these matters are resolved.

On the 4 March, the Planning and Building Standards Committee also granted planning permission for the erection of four dwellinghouses on the site of existing garages at Heriotfield, Oxton, near Lauder much to the ire of local residents who objected to the loss of the garages and to the impact of the new houses on their privacy and amenity (SBC Ref: 18/00910/FUL).  The third decision of the Committee related to proposed storage and distribution buildings, and ancillary dwellinghouse, for Border Mix Ltd on land near the Old Creamery, Dolphinton, near Biggar (SBC Ref: 18/01377/FUL).  Planning permission was refused, for a second time, on the grounds that it had not been demonstrated that there were any over-riding economic and/or operational reasons for the siting of this proposed development in the countryside.  The previous refusal of planning permission, in August 2017, was the subject of an appeal to the Scottish Government but, in January 2018, the appeal was dismissed (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2063).  The intention of the applicant is to relocate the business from its present location within Dolphinton village and the applicant hoped that the additional information provided would show that all other possibilities have been exhausted.  However, the Committee considered that alternative sites had not been thoroughly investigated.  It will be interesting to see what the applicant does next: another appeal or another site?

At its meeting on 25 March, the Planning and Building Standards Committee approved a three years extension to the commencement time period of planning consent 09/01043/FUL, which relates to alterations to Gattonside House, near Melrose, to form 15 flats and the erection of 44 dwellinghouses and flats and a village shop in the grounds.  At the same meeting, the Committee granted planning and listed building consent for two alternative schemes of internal and external alterations to Castle Venlaw Hotel in Peebles to form 11 flats, subject to clearance from Scottish Ministers.

On 18 March, the Local Review Body (LRB) reversed the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for an extension to the storage units at Farknowes, Langshaw Road, Galashiels to provide an additional 7 workshop units and 1 unit to provide a dog day care facility and a dog exercise area (SBC Ref: 18/00040/RREF).  The LRB also reversed the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the change of use of Redburn Garage, Peebles Road, Galashiels to a joiner’s workshop and showroom, caravan repairs and sales, car valet, retail and siting of catering unit (SBC Ref: 19/00004/RREF).  Although the business, which was in operation, comprised five different uses, the LRB considered that there was little significant difference between the previous use of the site and the proposed uses.  The LRB also reversed the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the change of use of the Mansfield Bar in Hawick into a residential flat (SBC Ref: 19/00002/RREF) and his decision to refuse planning permission for replacement windows to the property ‘Sunnybrae’ in Midlem (SBC Ref: 19/00003/RREF).  Not a very successful meeting for the Chief Planning Officer!

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, an appeal against the refusal of listed building consent for the installation of replacement windows in ‘The Honey House’, Longformacus in Berwickshire, was submitted on 28 February (DPEA Ref: LBA-140-2005).  The Honey House is a category C listed building, forming part of a row of cottages, many of which are also listed.  The proposed uPVC replacement windows would copy the glazing pattern and method of opening of the current traditional timber sash and case windows.  However, the Chief Planning Officer considered that the existing windows, which are on the principal elevation of the property, appeared to be in a reasonable state and could be repaired and the proposal would introduce an inferior product.  Listed building consent was refused on 22 January 2019 (SBC Ref: 18/01627/LBC).

Four other appeals remain outstanding: (1) 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); (2) & (3) 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); and (4) 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).

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).