Development Management: January 2019 Update

During January 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received over 130 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  A planning application has now been received from Hart Builders on behalf of Eildon Housing Association for the redevelopment of the former Earlston High School site (SBC Ref: 19/00090/FUL).  The proposal involves the construction of 64 affordable homes at an estimated cost of £9.2m, part funded by a £5.2m social housing grant from the Scottish Government.  It comprises a mix of two, three and four bedroom houses.  Following the submission of a Proposal of Application Notice in October last year for residential development, a community engagement event was held in the Church Hall on 4 December 2018, attended by only 19 people.  The biggest concerns related to the potential increase in traffic on the High Street, which can be congested at certain times, and the possible use of the road through the development as a short-cut.  Consequently, the layout has been designed to discourage vehicles travelling through the development as an alternative to the High Street.  Pedestrian routes through the development would provide a safer route from the centre of Earlston to the new High School.

In Selkirk, Rural Renaissance, the contracting arm of J.S. Crawford, Builders, has submitted a planning application for 13 detached houses on a site at Hillside Terrace adjacent to the A7 and adjoining the town’s tennis courts (SBC Ref: 19/00074/FUL).  The site is allocated for residential use in the adopted local development plan.  Concerns have already been raised, however, about the desirability of creating a new access to residential development on this part of the A7.  Nevertheless, Transport Scotland, the Trunk Roads Authority, does not oppose the proposed access if designed and constructed to meet its requirements.  The proposal by Rural Renaissance Ltd for 26 dwellinghouses on land at The Croft, Dingleton Road, Melrose remains to be decided (SBC Ref: 18/01385/FUL).

In Berwickshire, a proposal for the erection of 51 affordable dwellinghouses by Berwickshire Housing Association on land south and west of Ayton Primary School on Beanburn, Ayton is causing a stir (SBC Ref: 18/01812/FUL).  The proposed development was the subject of a Proposal of Application Notice in July 2018 when two public consultation events were held in the primary school, attended by some 80 people.  Particular concerns were raised in relation to increased traffic on Beanburn Road and Lawfield Drive, the potential for increased flooding of adjoining houses and the impact of the development on the amenity of nearby houses.  The site is allocated for housing in the adopted local development plan but a number of objections have already been submitted in relation to the planning application, so this application will be one to watch out for at a future Planning and Building Standards Committee.

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 January, some 100 planning applications have been determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  In Hawick, planning permission was granted, as expected, to T.J. Morris Ltd (Home Bargains) for the change of use of the Homebase Store at Galalaw Business Park, Hawick to allow 30% of the floor space to be used for food retailing (SBC Ref: 18/01441/FUL).  According to the agents, acting on behalf of T.J. Morris: “The proposed development will improve choice for consumers, whilst complementing the existing offer within the town centre”.  Will it enhance the viability and vitality of Hawick town centre, I wonder!  Planning permission has been granted, after a 16 months delay, for the erection of ten retirement homes on the site of the former West Linton Primary School (SBC Ref: 16/01217/FUL).  A legal agreement will ensure that, at least initially, the houses will be occupied by those of retirement age.

Only three planning applications were refused: (1) a proposal to amend the design of an approved proposed house on land at Ruthven House, Coldstream on the grounds that the design and scale of the house does not respect the character and appearance of surrounding properties (SBC Ref: 18/01602/FUL); (2) a proposal for a new dwellinghouse on land east of Tarf House, Cardrona, Peeblesshire on the grounds that it does not comply with the council’s housing in the countryside policy (SBC Ref: 18/00884/PPP); and (3) a proposal to replace timber sash-and-case windows on the front elevation of the property Sunnybrae, which is within the Core Area of the Midlem Conservation Area, near Selkirk, with uPVC framed sliding sash-and-case units (SBC Ref: 18/01462/FUL).

On the 7 January, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the erection of 64 affordable dwellings on land north of Sergeants Park, Newtown St. Boswells notwithstanding the receipt of a considerable number of objections from neighbouring residents and the community council (18/00486/FUL).  On 21 January, the Local Review Body (LRB) reversed the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Linthill, Lilliesleaf, by Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/01332/PPP).  By a vote of six to one, the LRB considered that the proposal related to an established building group.  The applicant for a house on land near Tarf House, West Linton, was not so fortunate however (SBC Ref: 18/01341/PPP).  In that case, the LRB agreed with the Chief Planning Officer that the proposal amounted to sporadic residential development in the countryside unrelated to a building group and upheld the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission.

As announced in the Tweedbank Development update (December 2018), Scottish Borders Council has acquired the remaining part of Lowood Estate, Tweedbank, an area extending to some 45 hectares (110 acres) between the Waverley railway line and the River Tweed.  The area is identified for a mix of residential and business development in the adopted local development plan, with the potential for some 300 houses and land for new business development.  At its meeting on 31 January, the Council agreed to submit the business case for the refurbishment of the existing Tweedbank Industrial Estate, at a cost of £15m, to the Scottish Government as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.  The first phase of development will create 4,660m² of new office space and 2,950m² of new industrial space on three sites (the ex-tapestry site, Eildon Mill and part of the Quarry site); the second phase will create up to 5,177m² of new office space on the rest of the Quarry site and the third phase will create 1,632m² of new office space and 400m² of industrial space on the southern edge of the Lowood Estate.  The whole programme will be completed over the 15 year life of the City Region Deal.  Meanwhile, the application for a mixed use development including a hotel, restaurant with drive-thru facility, food retail store and petrol filling station with shop on a site ( originally identified for a B&Q warehouse) at Tweedbank Industrial Estate (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL) remains to be determined.  To date, the application has been the subject of a number of objections as well as supporting comments.  It will be interesting to see how the Planning and Building Standards Committee views this proposal against its vision for Tweedbank Industrial Estate and Business Park.

On 7 January 2019, the Scottish Ministers accepted the Reporter’s recommendation that planning permission should be granted, subject to 16conditions, to the application by Eildon Housing Association for residential development at Huddersfield Street, Galashiels, which was called-in for determination in view of the possible flood risk (SBC Ref: 17/00695/FUL) (DPEA Ref: NA-SBD-054).  The Reporter was satisfied that, whilst the cycle storage area and most of the car park was at risk of flooding, there was no reason why the building containing the residential accommodation could not be designed and constructed so as to be undamaged by any predicted flood event.

On 24 January, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) dismissed the appeal against the serving of an enforcement notice by the council alleging that the use of land south and east of the property ‘Oaklands’ in Ednam village, near Kelso has been changed from agricultural land to garden ground without planning permission and that a variety of domestic structures have been erected/placed on the land (SBC Ref: 17/00131/UNDEV) (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2012).

As previously indicated, appeals have been submitted in relation to 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).  The Reporter appointed to determine these appeals will carry out an accompanied inspection of the site and surrounding area on Tuesday 5 February 2019 at 2.00pm.

Appeals remain outstanding 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: ANAA-140-2001); and 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).  Two appeals against the refusal of planning permission remain to be determined: (1) for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068); (2) 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).  The appeal against the refusal of Tree Works Consent for the removal of a mature copper beech tree at 22 Craigmyle Park, Clovenfords, near Galashiels also remains to be determined (SBC Ref: 18/01057/TPO) (DPEA Ref: TWCA-140-2).

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).

 

Tweedbank Development Update: January 2019

Some fifty years after the idea of a new village at Tweedbank, near Galashiels, was first raised, the final piece of the jigsaw has been put in place with the acquisition by Scottish Borders Council, on 6 December 2018, of the remaining part of Lowood Estate.  The area acquired extends to some 45 hectares (110 acres) between the Waverley railway line and the River Tweed.  The area is identified for a mix of residential and business development in the adopted local development plan.  The Tweedbank Masterplan prepared by Proctor Matthews Architects, considered by the council in January 2018, identifies the potential for some 300 houses and land for new business development.  This Masterplan will be taken forward in the new local development plan LDP2.  Although this purchase has been described as a bold development by the council’s Executive Member for Business and Development, maximising the benefits of the Borders Railway and creating hundreds of jobs, some councillors consider that the cost of the purchase (£9.6m) is a speculative and risky use of public money when budgets are constrained.  According to the council’s Executive Director, the Lowood project could cost £90m, including the cost of the purchase of the land, but it could potentially generate £150m of Gross Value Added (GVA).  It is estimated that 179 jobs could be created with a maximum of 173 construction jobs.  The overall Tweedbank Masterplan, which includes the refurbishment of the existing Tweedbank Industrial Estate, could cost £203m but would potentially generate £1.3b of GVA and create some 1,400 jobs.  It is considered that development on this scale is unlikely to be delivered without a comprehensive approach and public-sector pump priming; echoes of the philosophy behind the foundation of a new village at Tweedbank.

The idea for a new village at Tweedbank emerged in the mid-1960s.  The 1966 White Paper on the Scottish Economy 1965-1970 set out proposals to expand the economy of Scotland by providing new jobs and reducing the net loss of population experienced over the previous decades.  In relation to the Scottish Borders, the White Paper proposed that within the catchment area of Galashiels (a radius of 15 miles), which had a population of 73,000 persons in 1966, there should be a substantial and integrated programme of housing and new industry, the objective being to establish self-sustaining population growth.  A population increase of some 25,000 people over the succeeding 10-15 years (up to 1981) was proposed for the area comprising the three counties of Peeblesshire, Selkirkshire and Roxburghshire, excluding Kelso & District.

Professors Johnson-Marshall and Wolfe of Edinburgh University were appointed to prepare a plan for the increase in population of 25,000 people within the Galashiels Catchment Area.  Their report “The Central Borders: A Plan for Expansion”, commonly referred to as “The Central Borders Plan”, was published in two volumes in 1968.  The Central Borders Plan envisaged a “regional city” with the main settlements; Galashiels, Selkirk, Hawick and Jedburgh, sharing facilities and amenities.  In addition to the land allocated for housing in the main settlements in the existing County Development Plans, which could accommodate an additional 5,000 people, the Central Borders Plan incorporated a proposed new village at Tweedbank, where a population of 4,400 people was planned, and identified Newtown St. Boswells, which at the time had good road AND rail connections, as the location for a major settlement of some 10,000 population.

Excluding commitments in the existing County Development Plans, housing land for only an additional 1,700 people (out of the total of 25,000) was identified for Hawick, Selkirk and Jedburgh in the Central Borders Plan.  Not surprisingly, there was a strong body of opinion in Selkirkshire and Roxburghshire against the proposed expansion of Newtown St. Boswells.  Neither County Council showed any enthusiasm for major development at Newtown.  Selkirkshire County Council wanted to see more development in Galashiels and Selkirk, and Roxburgh County Council favoured a more modest increase of 3,000 people at Newtown St. Boswells with an enlarged share for Hawick and Jedburgh.

However, plans for Tweedbank were progressed; an amendment to the Roxburghshire County Development Plan was prepared in 1968 encompassing almost 300 acres of land, 190 acres of which was in the ownership of Lowood Estate (Mrs Constance Hamilton).  This amendment allocated land for housing and industry, playing fields, amenity open space and woodland and a new principal traffic route between Darnick and the A7 at Kingsknowes involving a new bridge over the Tweed.  As a result of objections from Mrs Constance Hamilton and others, public inquiries were held in December 1968 and March 1969.  The amendment to the county development plan was eventually approved by the Secretary of State in September 1969, following which a Masterplan for the development of approximately 1000 houses was prepared by the Scottish Special Housing Association (SSHA).

Land owned by five of the six owners was acquired voluntarily but Mrs Constance Hamilton declined to negotiate and a Compulsory Purchase Order was taken out.  Although this was also approved by the Secretary of State in September 1969, appeals to the Court of Session delayed the commencement of development until 1973.  The construction of the distributor road through Tweedbank commenced on 31 March 1973 and planning permission was granted for Phase I of the SSHA housing in June 1973 with house construction commencing in October 1973.  The new A68-A7 link over the River Tweed at Galafoot Bridge was opened in 1975.

SSHA would eventually build almost 300 houses in three phases over the next five years but the public sector housing programme came effectively to a halt in 1980 owing to a change in Government [the election of the Thatcher Conservative Government].  It was 1990 before Scottish Homes, formed in 1989, embarked on an expansion of housing at Tweedbank with a further 400 houses of varying tenure over a 6-year programme.  Eildon Housing would also build houses for rent and part-ownership.  Private housing would be built by Bett Homes in the 1980s and, more recently, by Barratt Homes.  By 2011, the population had reached 2,000 persons, considerably less than the 4,400 persons envisaged in 1968.

Within the centre of the village, a local centre was proposed comprising a primary school, community centre, shops, church hall and public house, situated close to a central lake formed in an existing swampy depression.  Tweedbank Primary School was opened in October 1976 [and was extended and refurbished in 2011] but there would be little progress on a village centre.  It was 1991 before a design/developer brief was prepared but efforts to find a developer floundered and little progress was made until 1995 when a block of three retail units was constructed.  The village centre now comprises a single local shop, a hairdressers and a bar/restaurant fronting the lake (originally described as the second lake in Scotland after the Lake of Menteith but now commonly known as Gun Knowe Loch).  Local offices of the Scottish Government’s Agriculture and Rural Economy Division are located close by.  A newly refurbished community centre is housed in the old Tweedbank Farm.  Lowood Mains houses a number of craft workshops.  A large area of playing fields and open space now includes an all-weather running track, an Astroturf football pitch, an indoor bowling club and sports complex.

Approximately 30 acres of land was allocated for industry in 1968, which it was estimated would accommodate approximately 500,000 sq.ft. [46,000 sq.m.] of floorspace and provide some 700 jobs.  The Scottish Development Agency (SDA) would be the prime mover in the development of the industrial estate, building both advance factories and bespoke units.  By the late 1980s, the SDA had built eleven blocks of industrial units of varying size, providing a total floor-space of some 120,000 sq. ft. occupied by tenants such as Hill Robinson Thread Co. Ltd., Tweedbank Circuits, Peri-dent Ltd., Magnet and Sprague Electric (UK) Ltd.  The Borders Regional Council built smaller workshop units (Eildon Mill).  In 1988, the Regional Council serviced 4.6ha of land on the north side of Tweedbank Drive and established Tweedside Park.  The first occupant was Radio Borders in January 1990.  They would be followed by Barbour, who moved from a smaller unit in Newcastleton, in 1996 and the Scottish Public Pensions Agency in 2001.  The Barbour factory closed in 2008, to be occupied by Plexus, an electrical wholesaler, until 2016.  The unit is now empty.

The SDA had begun to sell-off units to sitting tenants at Tweedbank from 1987 and in March 1990, the SDA sold substantial parts of its property holdings, including all land and buildings at Tweedbank, to Caledonian Land plc.  The Borders Regional Council made known its concerns to little effect.  The following year, the SDA was transformed into Scottish Enterprise, which established new local enterprise companies (LECs).  The Borders LEC, Scottish Borders Enterprise, was launched in April 1991.  Although not involved in building advanced factories, the LEC still had a role in providing business premises, such as building or converting existing buildings tailored to the needs of individual companies, environmental improvements and training.

Aggmore, a Real Estate Fund Manager, acquired the former SDA land/factory holdings in 2003, after a period of stagnation, and carried out various improvements.  By this time, manufacturing units had been converted to warehousing, with tenants such as Securicor, DHL, Plumbase and Plumbstore.  Electrical and telecoms firm Qube GB were attracted to the estate.  A significant part of the Tweedbank Industrial Estate is still understood to be owned by Aggmore.  The remainder comprises a mix of owner-occupied units and a tenanted unit (Eildon Mill) owned by Scottish Borders Council.

However, the industrial estate is suffering from an ageing and increasingly sub-standard stock of buildings and the size and layout of the buildings and related loading/parking areas are not consistent with modern requirements.  Four council sites, two on the industrial estate and two situated on the north side of Tweedbank Drive have been identified for development/redevelopment.  Tweedbank Industrial Estate has been designated a Simplified Planning Zone and associated Supplementary Guidance has been approved by the council to safeguard land and buildings for business uses.  Work on Supplementary Guidance for the Lowood Estate is to commence early in 2019 to be completed by the end of 2020.  A marketing and development strategy is to be developed in parallel.  Time will tell whether the acquisition of Lowood Estate is a prudent purchase or whether it will prove to be a ‘White Elephant’.  However, it should be remembered that the original purchase of Tweedbank in the 1970s was questioned in some quarters but I think all would agree that, 45 years later, albeit the population and employment projections have been shown to be over-optimistic, the project has been an overwhelming success.  Let us hope that we will be saying the same about this latest purchase in 20 years time.

 

 

Development Management: Christmas 2018 update

In relation to planning applications submitted, 2018 has ended relatively quietly.  During December 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received less than 100 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  There were no obvious contentious applications.  During the same period, some 70 planning applications have been determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers, only two of which were refused: (1) an application to reinstate two windows in lieu of air conditioning units at Deans Bar, Orrock Place, Hawick (SBC Ref: 17/01368/FUL); and (2) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Lamberton in Berwickshire.

On the 10 December, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the variation of condition 1 attached to planning consent 13/00789/FUL for the Braidlie Wind Farm, near the Hermitage Valley south of Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/01251/FUL).  The effect of the variation is to extend the time limit for initiating the development to three years from the date of the new permission (10 December 2018) rather than the date of the original permission (June 2016).  The planning application to vary conditions 1, 3, 4 & 14 of planning permission 13/00789/FUL remains to be determined.  This application (SBC Ref: 18/01456/FUL), as well as requesting an extension of time to initiate development, also requests an increase of the micro-siting allowance from 50m to 100m, an increase in tip height of six of the turbines to 149.9m and also requests a relaxation to allow the development to commence prior to the approval of the required ATC Radar Mitigation Scheme. The Braidlie Wind Farm was granted planning permission on appeal by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) in June 2016.  It will interesting to see the attitude of the Planning and Building Standards Committee to these proposed deviations from the plans approved by Scottish Ministers.

On the 10 December, the Planning and Building Standards Committee also granted planning permission for the erection of 38 dwellinghouses on a site at Thirlstane Drive, Lauder, much to the consternation of the Lauderdale Community Council and a number of neighbour objectors (SBC Ref: 18/00792/FUL).  The planning application for the erection of 64 dwellinghouses on land north of Sergeants Park, Newtown St. Boswells was, however, continued until the next meeting to allow officers to examine the infrastructure capacity issues and how the proposed development would site within the wider master plan for the Newtown Expansion Area (SBC Ref: 18/00486/FUL).

It will be 2019 before two other contentious applications appear on the agenda of the Planning and Building Standards Committee: (1) the application for a mixed use development including a hotel, restaurant with drive-thru facility, food retail store and petrol filling station with shop on a site at Tweedbank Industrial Estate (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL); and (2) the proposal by Rural Renaissance Ltd for 26 dwellinghouses on land at The Croft, Dingleton Road, Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/01385/FUL).

Back to the recurring issue of wind farms; another interesting application for the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee to determine will be the application by Energiekontor to vary conditions 2 & 4 of planning consent 17/00010/FUL for the Pines Burn Wind Farm sited south-west of Bonchester Bridge, which was granted planning permission on appeal by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) in August 2018.  This application (SBC Ref: 18/01443/FUL) requests that the micro-siting distance for turbines from the position shown on the approved plans be increased to 100m and that the tip height of five of the turbines be increased to 149.9m.  Having refused planning permission for the development, it will be interesting to see the attitude of the Planning and Building Standards Committee to these proposed deviations from the plans approved by Scottish Ministers.

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.

At its meeting on 17 December, the Local Review Body (LRB) upheld the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the replacement of shop front windows and door screens at Scott’s View Take-Away, Main Street, St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 18/01010/FUL).  The LRB agreed that the proposed UPVC door and side panels would be harmful to the character and appearance of the St. Boswells Conservation Area by reason of their design and materials proposed.  In relation to the planning application for alterations and extension to the dwellinghouse ‘Elsielea’ at 61 West High Street, Lauder, the LRB determined to vary the planning permission granted by the Chief Planning Officer by deleting condition 2 of the consent 18/00580/FUL, which required the submission of amended drawings of the proposed garage/workshop showing the mono-pitched roof reversed.  The LRB was content with the proposed design.

During December, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) dismissed the appeal against the council’s refusal to issue a Certificate of Lawful Use, as a dwellinghouse, of a property used in the past as a guest house at Camptown, south of Jedburgh. (SBC Ref: 18/00849/CLEU) (DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2002).

As indicated in the November update, appeals have been submitted in relation to 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).  At the meeting on 10 December, the Planning and Building Standards Committee responded to the appeals to the effect that, had they not been lodged, the Committee would have refused the planning application on the grounds of retaining the allotments [which it is proposed to relocate to another part of the site] in their current position, and refused the application for conservation area consent on the grounds that there was no appropriate redevelopment proposals in place for the buildings to be demolished.

An appeal has been submitted against 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: ANAA-140-2001).  An appeal has also been submitted 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).

Two appeals against the refusal of planning permission remain to be determined: (1) for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068); (2) 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).  The appeal against the refusal of Tree Works Consent for the removal of a mature copper beech tree at 22 Craigmyle Park, Clovenfords, near Galashiels also remains to be determined (SBC Ref: 18/01057/TPO) (DPEA Ref: TWCA-140-2).

An appeal against the serving of an enforcement notice by the council alleging that the use of land south and east of the property ‘Oaklands’ in Ednam village, near Kelso has been changed from agricultural land to garden ground without planning permission and that a variety of domestic structures have been erected/placed on the land (SBC Ref: 17/00131/UNDEV) (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2012) remains to be determined.

The Reporter’s report and recommendations have been submitted to Scottish Ministers for their decision in connection with the application by Eildon Housing Association for residential development at Huddersfield Street, Galashiels, which was called-in for determination by Scottish Ministers in view of the possible flood risk (SBC Ref: 17/00695/FUL) (DPEA Ref: NA-SBD-054).

Until just before Christmas, three 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; (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); and (3) an application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick (DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).

The Reporter’s reports in relation to the two Fallago Rig applications were submitted to Scottish Ministers in July and their decision on these applications is awaited.  However, on 21 December, Scottish Ministers decided, after a public inquiry, to refuse the application for consent for the Birneyknowe Wind Farm.  Scottish Ministers agreed with the Reporter’s findings that the wind farm would not preserve natural beauty and would be in conflict with important aspects of Scottish Planning Policy, and that the benefits of the proposal in relation to the support for renewable energy development at national level did not outweigh these concerns.  The local community, and no doubt Scottish Borders Council, will be delighted with this Christmas present.  Is the tide turning?

 

The Central Borders: A Plan for Expansion 1968

The population of the Scottish Borders declined throughout the 1950s and 1960s, particularly in the rural areas.  The population of the four counties, together, fell by some 10,000 people between 1951 and 1971 (from 107,575 to 97,464), although the population of the burghs remained fairly stable with small increases in Peebles, Galashiels, Kelso and Eyemouth.  The population of Berwickshire declined by almost 4,100 people between 1951 and 1971 (from 25,068 to 20,962), that of Roxburghshire by 3,600 (from 45,557 to 41,959), that of Peeblesshire by 1,500 (from 15,226 to 13,675) and that of Selkirkshire by 900 (from 21,724 to 20,868).  Thus, by 1971, the population of the four counties had decreased by some 19,000 persons from its high point of 116,500 one hundred years previously.  Government intervention would be required to arrest this decline!

The 1966 White Paper on the Scottish Economy 1965-1970 set out proposals to expand the economy of Scotland by providing new jobs and reducing the net loss of population experienced over the previous decades.  The Borders, along with South-West Scotland, North-East Scotland and the Highlands and Islands, were the subject of special studies by the Scottish Economic Planning Board; these were areas that were essentially rural in character and dependent on agriculture, where the growth of other employment had not been sufficient to offset the loss of jobs in agriculture and a decline in population.  The study of the Borders covered an area encompassing the counties of Berwickshire, Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire, the Langholm District of Dumfriesshire and the northern part of Northumberland, including Berwick-upon-Tweed.

For the “Western Area” (the counties of Peebles, Selkirk and Roxburgh, excluding Kelso & District, together with Langholm & District in Dumfries County), the study concluded that without the provision of a range of employment opportunities, especially for men, the heavy outward migration of people of working age would continue, with all the consequent effects on existing industry, on the structure of the population and on the standard of service, social and cultural facilities.  The White Paper proposed that within the catchment area of Galashiels (a radius of 15 miles), which had a population of 73,000 persons, there should be a substantial and integrated programme of housing and new industry, the objective being to establish self-sustaining population growth.  A population increase of some 25,000 people over the succeeding 10-15 years (up to 1976-1981) was proposed for the area comprising the three counties of Peeblesshire, Selkirkshire and Roxburghshire, excluding Kelso & District.  Growth would be concentrated on Galashiels, in the first instance, to produce a geographic, economic, social and cultural focus for the Central Borders.  In the “Eastern Area” (Kelso & District, Berwickshire County, Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough and the northern part of Northumberland), where the economy was predominantly agriculture based, growth should be concentrated on Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Professors Johnson-Marshall and Wolfe of Edinburgh University were appointed to prepare a plan for the increase in population of 25,000 people within the Galashiels Catchment Area.  Their report “The Central Borders: A Plan for Expansion”, commonly referred to as “The Central Borders Plan”, was published in two volumes in 1968.  The Central Borders Plan envisaged a “regional city” with the main settlements; Galashiels, Selkirk, Hawick and Jedburgh, sharing facilities and amenities.  In addition to the land allocated for housing in the main settlements in the existing County Development Plans, which could accommodate an additional 5,000 people, the Central Borders Plan incorporated the proposed new village at Tweedbank, where a population of 4,400 people was planned, and identified Newtown St. Boswells, which at the time had good road AND rail connections, as the location for a major settlement of some 10,000 population.  Approximately four-fifths of the proposed growth of 25,000 people was thus located within a central corridor stretching from Galashiels to Newtown St. Boswells.  Industrial development would be concentrated within the areas zoned for industry in the existing towns, notably Hawick and Galashiels, in the first instance, with new industry at St. Boswells (Charlesfield) in the longer term.  Other proposals included a new District General Hospital between Galashiels and Melrose and town centre improvements in Hawick, Galashiels, Jedburgh and Peebles.

Excluding commitments in the existing County Development Plans, housing land for only an additional 1,700 people (out of the total of 25,000) was identified for Hawick, Selkirk and Jedburgh in the Central Borders Plan.  These Burgh Councils were not happy.  There was also a strong body of opinion, in Selkirkshire and Roxburghshire, against the proposed expansion of Newtown St. Boswells.  Neither County Council showed any enthusiasm for major development at Newtown.  Selkirkshire County Council wanted to see more development in Galashiels and Selkirk, and Roxburgh County Council favoured a more modest increase of 3,000 people at Newtown St. Boswells with an enlarged share for Hawick and Jedburgh.  None of the County Development Plans were amended to reflect the recommendations put forward in the Central Borders Plan.  Instead, working parties were established to examine the potential of larger-scale growth in Galashiels and Hawick.  The Galashiels Working Party Report, published in 1973, recommended that additional land at Mossilee, with a capacity of over 1,000 dwellings (3,500 people), be allocated for housing in a comprehensively updated Selkirkshire County Development Plan, which would also include trunk road improvements through Galashiels and the construction of a new road along the, now closed, railway line.  The Hawick Working Party Report, published in early 1974, proposed a population increase for the town of some 4,900 persons, far beyond that recommended in the Central Borders Plan.  Clearly, the view from Hawick was that the town’s status as the largest town in the Borders must be preserved.  Working parties for Jedburgh and Kelso, similarly, recommended significant allocations of land for housing and industry in their respective burghs.

Contrary to expectations, the population of the Central Borders continued to decline in the period up to 1971.  The population of Roxburghshire fell from 45,500 in 1951 to 42,000 in 1971; that of Selkirkshire fell from 21,700 to 20,800.  Hawick and Jedburgh lost population, whilst that of Selkirk and Galashiels remained stable.  Only Kelso experienced significant growth.  There was significant population decline in the landward areas.

The Central Borders Plan did not cover Berwickshire, except for Earlston and Lauder, or Peeblesshire.  In Berwickshire, the population fell by over 3,000 persons to 20,600 in 1971.  It would be 1972 before a draft ‘Rural Policy for Berwickshire’ would set out a more optimistic view of the future for the county than that expressed in the development plan, approved in 1965, and would identify settlements for expansion.  In Peeblesshire, the county population fell from 15,200 in 1951 to 13,700 in 1971.  Tourism was seen as the basis for future economic growth rather than industrial development, and a ‘Plan for Tourist Development Proposals’ was approved in 1969, including proposals for a range of picnic sites and car parks/viewpoints.

The next post will summarise the state of the Region on the eve of local government re-organisation in 1975, when the four counties of Peeblesshire, Selkirkshire, Roxburghshire and Berwickshire, together with a small part of Midlothian (incorporating the Gala Water valley villages of Stow, Fountainhall and Heriot) would be amalgamated to form the Borders Region and the Borders Regional Council would become the unitary planning authority for the whole of the Region.

 

County Planning in the 1940s and 1950s: Peeblesshire County Council

Peeblesshire County Council pre-empted the enactment of the Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) (Scotland) Act 1943 by appointing its first Town Planning Committee in December 1940.  However, this committee undertook little business until September 1942 when consideration was given to the carrying out of a survey of the area in connection with the post-war planning of the county.  Frank Mears, who would produce the Regional Survey and Plan for Central and South-East Scotland, published in 1946, and who was undertaking a survey of Peebles for the town council in connection with its post-war housing scheme, was approached and agreed to undertake a survey of the county.  Work commenced in January 1943; the survey and preliminary town plans were to be completed within one year at a cost of £850.

By early 1944, although factual surveys of Peebles, Innerleithen, Walkerburn and other villages had been carried out, considerable dis-satisfaction was being expressed by the Town Planning Committee at the lack of any definite proposals for the county.  A great deal of time had been taken up up-dating the OS base maps and a lack of transport was inhibiting survey work.  In April 1944, Mr. Mottram, the architect carrying out the survey work on behalf of Frank Mears, was provided with a 7hp Austin car and the Regional Petroleum Officer was approached to sanction a supply of petrol!  It would be another year before the survey of the county was completed and preliminary proposals set out for post-war housing in Peebles.

In February 1944, following the coming into effect of the Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) (Scotland) Act 1943, Mr. A Anderson, County Surveyor, was appointed Planning Officer to deal with the expected rush of applications for interim development certificates.  There was a rash of applications for the erection of pre-fabricated houses in Peebles and Innerleithen by the respective town councils.  A preliminary report submitted by Frank Mears at the end of 1944 identified housing and industrial sites in Peebles and Innerleithen.  Kingsmeadows was identified as the area for a major expansion of housing in Peebles.  A report on housing in the landward area to sustain farming after the end of the war identified the requirement for 446 houses to meet the needs of agricultural workers and an ageing population.  Swedish timber houses were erected in a number of locations; Broughton, Skirling, Romanno Bridge, Lamancha and Eddleston.

Following the publication of the Central and South-East Scotland Study, by Frank Mears, in May 1946, consideration was given to the establishment of a Joint Planning Advisory Committee for the Borders.  It was generally felt by Peeblesshire members that Peeblesshire was geographically and economically more closely related to Edinburgh and the Lothians than the Central Borders.  In fact, Frank Mears suggested that there was an opportunity for the establishment of a joint planning department with Midlothian County Council, where John S Baillie had been appointed county planning officer, but the council did not consider this necessary at this time.

Probably due to his commitments with the Central and South-East Scotland Study, it was May 1947 before Frank Mears finally produced his report and plan for Peeblesshire County, which was publicised in the local press and the subject of consultation with Peebles and Innerleithen town councils.  Over the next 6 months, wide-ranging comments were received from Peebles and Innerleithen town councils and from Broughton and West Linton parishes.

Following elections in May 1948, and the enactment of the new Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1947, which introduced wide-ranging planning powers to control development, including the requirement to prepare development plans, the relevance of the Mears’ plan was questioned.  Considerable doubts were expressed about a number of proposals in Peebles and Innerleithen with questions over the proposed route of a by-pass for Peebles and the siting of new housing and industrial sites; a by-pass for West Linton and the need for a rigid control of holiday huts, shacks and caravans in the countryside.  As planning applications started to be received, thoughts turned to staffing and the council reluctantly decided in December 1948 to enter into an arrangement with Midlothian Council whereby the staff of that council’s planning department would carry out planning work for Peeblesshire County Council under the direction of John Baillie, the County Planning Officer.  Initially, all decisions on planning applications were considered by the Town Planning Committee with Baillie Cleland presiding.  However, by February 1949, decisions on planning applications were delegated to the County Clerk where the County Surveyor (A. Anderson) and the County Planning Officer (J.S. Baillie) had no objections.  The planning department of Midlothian County Council took over the responsibility of producing the development plan survey and report.

Major areas of housing development commenced in the early 1950s at Kingsmeadows in Peebles and at the Pirn in Innerleithen, including the provision of new schools.  The distribution of holiday huts, shacks, bus bodies and caravans throughout northern Peeblesshire was the subject of a major report resulting in the establishment of a joint Planning and Landward Health and Housing sub-committee to consider future policy.  Applications for the resumption of sand and gravel working at various locations in the county, such as Shiphorns Farm and Nether Fall near Eddleston, also provided a challenge for the Town Planning Committee.

Work on the development plan progressed through 1949, 1950 and 1951, and in March 1952 a draft development plan, which featured major road proposals for Peebles, was exhibited in the town.  The development plan proposed a by-pass in a 60ft wide corridor on the town side of the East Station from Northgate to Innerleithen Road much to the consternation of the Railway Executive.  Peebles West Station, on the south side of the Tweed, had closed to passengers in June 1950 although goods trains continued to run to Broughton and Symington until June 1954.  The West Station Goods Depot, connected by the seven arch skew bridge over the Tweed to Peebles East Station, continued in use until August 1959 and Peebles East Station continued in use until February 1962.  The town council preferred a route on the Venlaw Bank side of the railway.  Eventually, a compromise solution comprising a one-way road system on the town side of the East Station was agreed.  It was June 1953 before the development plan report was finalised and, following consultations with Midlothian County Council on matters of joint interest, it was submitted to the Secretary of State on 14 October 1953.

The Peeblesshire County Development Plan was approved on 23 December 1955.  It was based on a 1951 county population of little more than 15,000 persons and anticipated little change in population over the subsequent 20 year period.  Land for housing to accommodate an additional 500 persons in Peebles and 500 persons in Innerleithen and Walkerburn, together, was proposed.  In Peebles, land was allocated for housing on Edderston Road and at Kingsmeadows.  Land for light industrial development was identified at South Park, near the Cattle Market, and on Rosetta Road, north of the built-up area.  In Innerleithen, the Pirn site was identified for local authority housing and included a site for a new primary school.  Land south of the railway line was allocated for light industry.

Major road proposals included by-passes for Carlops, West Linton and Dolphinton on the A702 and for Romanno Bridge on the A701.  On the A72, a major new road was proposed by-passing Innerleithen and Walkerburn to the south.  In Peebles, itself, a number of significant road improvements had been debated and discounted but the plan retained the proposed widening of the west end of the High Street/Cuddy Bridge/Old Town and part of Northgate, involving the demolition of a number of frontage properties.

In the landward area, the main policy issues related to mineral working and the hut encampments.  A number of sites for sand and gravel working, roadstone quarrying, peat working and open cast coal-mining in the northern part of the county were identified.  Hut encampments at Carlops, West Linton, Eddleston and Peebles were identified for improvement and a policy of allowing individual huts in the countryside subject to there being no nuisance or detriment to the amenity was established. During the 1950s, planning permission for single holiday huts and caravans in the countryside were granted planning permission for a limited period of 5 years but owner/occupiers were encouraged to re-site them on recognised sites at Carlops, Eddleston and Peebles.  Enforcement action was taken against the numerous bus bodies (single and double-deckers) used as holiday accommodation.

As car ownership and car touring increased during the 1950s, there was a plethora of applications for petrol filling stations both in the urban areas of Peebles and Innerleithen and in the countryside on the main road routes.  Most applications were refused but planning permissions were granted for the ubiquitous ‘Milk Bar’ on a number of main routes through the county.  Advertisement applications on garages, hotels and public houses, including illuminated garage signs proliferated.  Advanced signs for hotels in the countryside proved most contentious.  The whole county outwith the two burghs was designated an Area of Special Advertisement Control.

As the 1960s dawned, in the landward area, mineral working, hut encampments and tourist-related developments would be the main issues facing the council.  In Peebles, its increasing attraction as a retirement and commuter town would bring pressures for housing development south of the river, leading to conflict with those who wished to conserve the town’s historic character.

 

Development Planning update: December 2018

The Planning (Scotland) Bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 4 December 2017 sets out the Scottish Government’s proposals for changes to the overall framework under which planning operates.  The Bill seeks to re-focus the planning system on enhancing community engagement and reducing and simplifying procedures and processes.  Key proposals include:

  • Abolition of strategic development plans, with the national planning framework forming part of the development plan;
  • Abolition of statutory supplementary planning guidance;
  • Local development plans to be in place for a period of 10 years rather than 5 years, with the right to amend them during that time;
  • Scottish Planning Policy to be incorporated into the national planning framework, to be reviewed every 10 years;
  • Creation of Local Place Plans produced by a community body; and
  • Compulsory training for councillors discharging planning duties.

The Bill does not include any reference to third party appeals.  There has been a long-running campaign for the introduction of a limited third party right of appeal where those who have objected to a proposal that has been granted planning permission can request a review of the decision.  However, Scottish Ministers are opposed to the creation of a third party right of appeal.

Stage 2 of the Planning Bill’s scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament concluded on 14 November.  Over 300 amendments were voted on by the Local Government and Communities Committee.  Amendments have been made to the definition of the ‘purpose of planning’ to read “to manage the development and use of land in the best long term public interest and a statutory post of “Chief Planning Officer” has been introduced for all Scottish planning authorities.  However, several areas of the Bill remain unclear: Strategic Development Plans have been retained, to be prepared on a 5 year cycle whilst Local Development Plans and the National Planning Framework will be on a 10 year cycle.  Interestingly, compulsory training for councillors discharging planning duties has been removed, as have all the provisions relating to planning performance.  No amendments attempting to change the planning appeals system were successful.

Stage 3 of consideration of the Bill will commence early in 2019.  Stage 3 is the final stage and further Amendments may be tabled but the Presiding Officer of the Parliament has discretion to decide which, if any, are admissible.  Issues that have been debated and concluded are unlikely to be considered again.  At the conclusion of stage 3, Parliament will vote on the Bill.

The Proposed Strategic Development Plan for South-East Scotland, SESPlan, was submitted to Scottish Ministers in June 2017.  The Examination of the Proposed Strategic Development Plan was completed by Reporters appointed by Scottish Ministers in May 2018 and their report was submitted to Scottish Ministers on 20 July 2018.  It was published on the DPEA website on 24 July.  The Reporters considered twenty-five unresolved issues and have recommended a number of modifications to the Plan.  The response of the Scottish Ministers is awaited.

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, including a programme of afternoon drop-in sessions and evening workshops held across the Scottish Borders.  This programme concluded with a drop-in session and workshop in Hawick on 13 December.  The MIR is available online at www.scotborders.gov.uk/ldp2mir.  Hard copies are available to view at Council Headquarters at Newtown St. Boswells during normal office hours and at all Council Contact Centres and Libraries.  The public consultation period continues until 31 January 2019.  Remember, if you don’t make your views known, they can’t be considered.

 

 

Development Management: November 2018 update

During November 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received some 130 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  Undoubtedly, the application which will catch most public attention is the application for a mixed use development including a hotel, restaurant with drive-thru facility, food retail store and petrol filling station with shop on a site at Tweedbank Industrial Estate (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL).  The site was previously acquired by B&Q but the planning application for a warehouse was never determined and was eventually withdrawn.  A supporting statement explains that the proposed “Borders Gateway” development includes a BP Filling Station and M&S Food Kiosk, Costa Coffee Drive Thru, Premier Inn with 71 beds and a discount food retail unit with 108 car spaces.  The site forms part of a much larger area zoned as a strategically important employment area and is outwith the area adjacent to the train station zoned for mixed uses in the local development plan, which has been suggested as a possible site for a hotel.  Whilst some organisations have welcomed the proposals, concerns have already been expressed by Galashiels Community Council about the effect of such a development on Galashiels town centre and on the prospects for a new hotel in Galashiels, for which a number of possible alternative sites have been identified.  With consultations on the new local development plan (LDP2) on-going, a decision on this application is likely to take some time and is likely to be controversial, whichever way it goes.  I am looking forward to hearing the debate when the matter, eventually, comes before the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee for determination!

Elsewhere, opposition is mounting in Melrose to the proposal by Rural Renaissance Ltd for 26 dwellinghouses on land at The Croft, Dingleton Road (SBC Ref: 18/01385/FUL).  As predicted, this proposal has attracted a great deal of attention amongst the population of Melrose and almost 60 objections have been received.  Particular concerns relate to the suitability of Dingleton Road to accept traffic from additional housing development and to the impact of any development on the character and landscape value of the Eildon Hills.  This application will no doubt be another test for the Planning and Building Standards Committee.

Eildon Housing submitted a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) for the redevelopment of the Earlston High School site for residential development on the 25 October (SBC Ref: 18/01493/PAN).  The community engagement event proposed for some time between the 15th and 30th November in Earlston Church Hall, is now to be held on 6 December (between 5.00pm and 8.00pm).

In Kelso, a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) has been submitted by local builders M & J Ballantyne for alterations and conversion of the former Kelso High School to form extra care housing and the erection of private housing within the grounds (SBC Ref: 18/01574/PAN).  A public drop-in event was held on 22 November in the Assembly Room at the High School.  Any subsequent planning application cannot be submitted before 1 February 2019 and a pre-application consultation report will need to accompany the application detailing the results of the pre-application consultations, including the public event.

Back to the recurring issue of wind farms; another interesting application for the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee will be the application by Energiekontor to vary conditions 2 & 4 of planning consent 17/00010/FUL for the Pines Burn Wind Farm sited south-west of Bonchester Bridge, which was granted planning permission on appeal by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) in August 2018.  This application (SBC Ref: 18/01443/FUL) requests that the micro-siting distance for turbines from the position shown on the approved plans be increased to 100m and that the tip height of five of the turbines be increased to 149.9m.  Having refused planning permission for the development, it will be interesting to see the attitude of the Planning and Building Standards Committee to these proposed deviations from the plans approved by Scottish Ministers.

Another wind farm case that will require to be considered by the Planning and Building Standards Committee is the application by Energiekontor to vary conditions 1, 3, 4 & 14 of planning permission 13/00789/FUL for the Braidlie Wind Farm, near the Hermitage Valley south of Hawick, which was also granted planning permission on appeal by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division in June 2016.  This application (SBC Ref: 18/01456/FUL) requests an extension of time to initiate development, an increase of the micro-siting allowance from 50m to 100m, an increase in tip height of six of the turbines to 149.9m and also requests a relaxation to allow the development to commence prior to the approval of the required ATC Radar Mitigation Scheme. Again, it will interesting to see the attitude of the Planning and Building Standards Committee to these proposed deviations from the plans approved by Scottish Ministers.

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 have been determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers, ten of which have been refused planning permission.  Perhaps the most contentious is the application for the change of use of the Redburn Garage, located in a prominent position on the Peebles Road on the outskirts of Galashiels, to joiner’s workshop and showroom, caravan repairs and sales, car valet, retail and the siting of a catering unit (SBC Ref: 18/00723/FUL).  This is a retrospective application for the former Bruce Motors Garage and Showroom which has been in use for above uses for some time.  Whilst the Chief Planning Officer considered that some aspects of the development are acceptable, the application has been refused because of the retail and joiner’s workshop element of the development.

Elsewhere planning permission has been refused for: (i) the erection of a dwellinghouse on land at Tarf House, West Linton (SBC Ref: 18/01341/PPP); (ii) the erection of two dwellinghouses at Croupyett, Ancrum (SBC Ref: 18/01177/PPP); (iii) the erection of an extension to a dwellinghouse at Townhead Way, Newstead (SBC Ref: 18/01215/FUL); (iv) the erection of a storage shed at 17 Leithen Road, Innerleithen (SBC Ref: 18/01116/FUL); (v) the erection of 7 additional workshop units, including one to be used as a dog day-care facility together with exercise area at Farknowes, Langshaw Road, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/01229/FUL); (vi) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Old Graden, Kelso (SBC Ref: 18/01252/PPP); (vii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Linthill, Lilliesleaf, by Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/01332/PPP); (viii) the erection of a dwellinghouse on Eddy Road, Newstead, Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/01060/FUL; and (ix) the change of use of the Mansfield Bar on Mansfield Road in Hawick to a residential flat (SBC Ref: 18/01330/FUL).  Since it seems to be the practice for applicants who are refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers to appeal the decision, the council’s Local Review Body is going to be busy in the coming months.

At its meeting on 5 November, the Planning and Building Standards Committee decided to continue consideration, pending a site visit, of the application for the redevelopment of the March Street Mills site in Peebles for residential units (SBC Ref: 17/00063/PPP).  This proposal, submitted almost two years ago after extensive pre-application consultation, has generated considerable opposition from Peebles residents and a wide range of other local organisations.  At the time of writing, the agent for the developer, Moorbrook Textiles Ltd, has intimated that they are not prepared to wait any longer for a decision from the council and have decided to submit an appeal to the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) against the non-determination of the application.  It is interesting to see that in submitting the appeal rather than wait for a decision from the Planning and Building Standards Committee, the agents for the applicants indicate that the decision to appeal: “has been driven by the understanding of the appellant that the key determining issues and planning balance……are highly complex and emotive, such that they consider that placing the decision making in the hands of a Reporter acting on behalf of Scottish Ministers to be the appropriate action”.  Watch this space!

At its meeting on 19 November, the Local Review Body (LRB) reversed two decisions of its Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for: (1) the erection of a dwellinghouse on land at Ladywood, Lower Greenhill, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 18/00929/PPP); and (2) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Chapel Cottage, Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/00644/PPP).  The LRB did support the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission in respect of the erection of a further two dwellinghouses at Lower Greenhill, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 18/00832/PPP) and to refuse planning permission for the change of use of part of Unit 8 at Tweedside Park, Tweedbank (the former Plexus Facility) to form a gymnasium, children’s soft play area and associated café. (SBC Ref: 18/00635/FUL).  In this case, the LRB considered that the loss of business space, although limited, would undermine the aims of the council’s recently approved Supplementary Guidance for the Central Borders (Tweedbank) Business Park.  Will this decision have any impact in relation to the more recent proposal on the Tweedbank Industrial Estate referred to above!

During November, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) reached decisions on the appeals against the refusal of planning permission for: (1) the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 17/00623/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); and (2) the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (SBC Ref: 16/01377/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062).  In both cases, the Reporter appointed to determine the appeal, reversed the decision of the council and granted planning permission for the proposals.  One appeal against the refusal of planning permission remains to be determined: for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068).

The Reporter’s report and recommendations have been submitted to Scottish Ministers for their decision in connection with the application by Eildon Housing Association for residential development at Huddersfield Street, Galashiels, which was called-in for determination by Scottish Ministers in view of the possible flood risk (SBC Ref: 17/00695/FUL) (DPEA Ref: NA-SBD-054).

The appeal against the serving of an enforcement notice by the council alleging that the use of land south and east of the property ‘Oaklands’ in Ednam village, near Kelso has been changed from agricultural land to garden ground without planning permission and that a variety of domestic structures have been erected/placed on the land (SBC Ref: 17/00131/UNDEV) (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2012) remains to be determined.  The site inspection has been arranged for 6 December.  The appeal against the council’s refusal to issue a Certificate of Lawful Use, as a dwellinghouse, of a property used in the past as a guest house at Camptown, south of Jedburgh also remains to be determined.(SBC Ref: 18/00849/CLEU) (DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2002).

Two new appeals have been submitted to the DPEA.  As expected an appeal has been submitted against the decision of the Planning and Building Standards Committee, at its meeting on 3 September, to refuse planning permission against the Chief Planning Officer’s recommendation, 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).  This is a revised proposal, following the withdrawal of concerns expressed by the Ministry of Defence over possible interference with radar at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria and seismic monitoring at Eskdalemuir, near Langholm.  However, although the Chief Planning Officer recommended approval, the Committee decided on a vote of 5 votes to 2 to refuse the application on the grounds that the proposal would have significant and adverse impacts and effects on the landscape.  Representations on the appeal will be accepted by the DPEA until 21 December.

Whereas appeals against the refusal of planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer are referred to the council’s Local Review Body (LRB) for determination, appeals against the refusal of consent for works to trees by the council’s Tree Officer are a matter for the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA).  The council’s LRB has no locus in the matter (see my post on ‘Trees, woodlands and hedges’).  Although the council deals with over 100 tree works applications per year, very few are refused consent and appeals to the DPEA are rare.  In fact, only two such appeals appear on the DPEA website, one of which was withdrawn shortly after submission.  The second appeal, submitted on 15 November, relates to the refusal of Tree Works Consent for the removal of a mature copper beech tree at 22 Craigmyle Park, Clovenfords, near Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/01057/TPO) (DPEA Ref: TWCA-140-2).  The appeal will be determined by a Reporter appointed by the DPEA through consideration of the written submissions from the council and the appellant and a site inspection.

Three wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remain outstanding: (1) the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills; (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); and (3) an application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick (DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).  The Reporter’s reports in relation to these three applications have been submitted to Scottish Ministers and their decision is awaited.