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.

Local Development Plan 2: Main Issues Report 2018

As detailed in my September 2018 post, Scottish Borders Council approved the Main Issues Report (MIR) for the review of the Local Development Plan on 30 August 2018.  The MIR has now been published and 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.

The MIR identifies the key development and land use issues which the new local development plan (LDP2) must address and sets out preferred options for tackling these issues.  Key issues include:

  • regeneration of town centres;
  • opportunities for growing the economy;
  • housing land provision;
  • employment land provision;
  • delivery of infrastructure;
  • delivering sustainability and addressing climate change; and
  • promotion of quality building design;

Public participation and community engagement is a key part of the development plan process.  The MIR and the accompanying Environmental Report has now been formally advertised in the local press and there will be wide consultation with all key agencies, neighbouring authorities and community councils, local organisations and businesses.  A programme of afternoon drop-in sessions and evening workshops has been organised across the Scottish Borders at the venues below:

  • Newcastleton, Village Hall: 13 November (drop-in session, 2.00-6.00pm);
  • Kelso, Sainsbury’s foyer: 15 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Kelso, Town Hall: 15 November (workshop 6.00-8.00pm);
  • Selkirk, 1 Tower Street/pop-up shop: 19 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.30pm);
  • Eyemouth, Co-op, High Street: 21 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Eyemouth, Community Centre: 21 November (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);
  • Peebles, Burgh Hall, High Street: 26 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Peebles, Burgh Hall, High Street: 26 November (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);
  • Duns, Council Chambers, Newtown Street: 27 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Duns, Council Chambers, Newtown Street: 27 November (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);
  • West Linton, Village Centre: 28 November (drop-in session, 2.00-6.00pm);
  • Galashiels, Tesco foyer: 29 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Galashiels, Transport Interchange: 29 November (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);
  • Newtown St. Boswells, Council Chambers, Council HQ: 12 December (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);
  • Hawick, Morrisons foyer: 13 December (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Hawick, Heritage Hub, Kirkstile: 13 December (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);

No booking is required for the afternoon drop-in sessions but the council asks that people wishing to attend the evening workshops let the local plans team know by contacting localplan@scotborders.gov.uk or ringing 01835 826671.  Remember, if you don’t make your views known, they can’t be considered.

 

Development Management: October 2018 update

During October 2018, 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.  Amongst the applications submitted, perhaps the one to catch most public attention is the application by 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).  The proposed development would create 50 full-time equivalent jobs compared with the 27 currently employed at the Homebase Store.  The application has already been welcomed by local councillors.  However, whilst the proposed development is likely to generate additional employment, it is unlikely to have any beneficial effect on the viability and vitality of Hawick town centre.  Also during October, an application was received for the demolition of the Armstrong’s (Almstrong’s) building, which once housed a valued department store on Oliver Crescent, and the erection of a replacement office building (SBR Refs: 18/01419/CON & 18/01420/FUL).  A perfect illustration of how the town centre is changing with the expansion of retailing on Commercial Road.

In Galashiels, an application has been received from Eildon Housing Association for further residential development, comprising 69 dwellinghouses, at Coopersknowe Crescent (SBC Ref: 18/01416/FUL).  The site lies on the western side of the Langshaw Road between the private housing development at Coopersknowe Crescent and the Langlee Industrial Estate and is comprised of the former Easter Langlee farm steading and surrounding agricultural land.  This application follows the submission of a Proposal of Application Notice in June 2018 and a programme of pre-application public consultation.  Objections to the proposal have already been submitted and it will be interesting to see how this development proposal is dealt with by the council.  Eildon Housing has also submitted a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) for the redevelopment of the Earlston High School site for residential development (SBC Ref: 18/01493/PAN).  It is proposed to hold a community engagement event sometime between the 15th and 30th November in Earlston Church Hall.  The subject will also be discussed at Earlston Community Council meeting on the 15th November.  Watch out for further news and the advertisement in the local press.

In Melrose, an application has now been received for the erection of 26 dwellinghouses on land at The Croft, Dingleton Road (SBC Ref: 18/01385/FUL).  The site is allocated for housing in the Local Development Plan with a capacity for 25 houses.  A Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) was submitted by the developer, Rural Renaissance Ltd, in January 2018, and a public exhibition of the proposed development was held in Melrose Rugby Club (SBC Ref: 18/00016/PAN).  This site has a long history of planning proposals and, as predicted, this proposal has attracted a great deal of attention amongst the population of Melrose.  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.  Objections have already been submitted and this application will no doubt be another test for the Planning and Building Standards Committee.

In Tweeddale, a re-application has been submitted by Border Mix for the erection of a storage and distribution building and an ancillary dwellinghouse on a site north east of the Old Creamery outside Dolphinton (SBC Ref: 18/01377/FUL).  A similar application was refused by the Planning and Building Standards Committee in August 2017 (SBC Ref: 17/00087/FUL).  Refusal was primarily based on the absence of an overriding economic and/or operational need.  Further information has now been produced to show that, given the absence of other suitable sites within the market area, the Dolphinton site remains the only viable option to accommodate the relocation of Border Mix from the present site, which is within an established residential area in Dolphinton.  Another application for the Planning and Building Standards Committee.

In Tweeddale, an application has also been submitted by the Tweedsmuir Community Company for alterations to the Crook Inn Hotel, Tweedsmuir, the change of use and alterations to an outbuilding to a café and office, the erection of a bunkhouse and a biomass boiler building (SBC Ref: 18/01342/FUL).  A very welcome proposal for this historic hostelry, which has lain empty and decaying for a number of years.

In Berwickshire, an interesting proposal in Eyemouth involves the demolition of the existing boatyard buildings and their replacement (SBC Refs: 18/01374/CON & 18/01372/FUL).  Boat building and repair has taken place on this site for almost 200 years.  Boat building no longer takes place in the yard and the decline in the fishing industry has seen the yard struggle to remain profitable.  The existing slipways do not have the height to accommodate the largest fishing vessels under cover and they have to be worked on outside, which limits certain work to the summer months when the boats are most active.  Redevelopment of the yard will raise the height of the three sheds on the site to allow the maintenance and painting of vessels indoors and at all times of year.

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 1 October, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the erection of 57 dwellinghouses on the north side of Main Street, East End, Chirnside (SBC Ref: 18/00147/FUL).  The proposed development will comprise 100% affordable housing.  At its meeting on 10 October, the Local Review Body (LRB) reversed two decisions of its Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for: (1) the erection of two glamping units for holiday let on land at Flatt Farm, Newcastleton (SBC Ref: 18/00686/FUL); and (2) the change of use of steading, alterations and extension to form a dwellinghouse at Billerwell Farm, Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/00745/FUL).  In the first case, the LRB supported the proposals which represented an expansion of an existing farm diversification business based on tourism.  In the second case, the LRB, on a vote of 5 members to 4 members, considered that the amended design for the proposed dwellinghouse was acceptable.  The LRB did, however, support the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission in respect of the installation of replacement windows at 41 North Hermitage Street, Newcastleton (SBC Ref: 18/01039/FUL).  Members did not consider that the proposed uPVC top-hung windows were acceptable in Newcastleton Conservation Area.

During October, some 100 applications were dealt with by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Only one application was refused: an application 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 existing uPVC shop front, which replaced a timber shop front, is the subject of enforcement action.  The current proposal seeks to replace the uPVC shop front with a timber frame painted white whilst the door and side panel would remain uPVC.  The Chief Planning Officer considers that, at this location within a conservation area, the whole of the shop front should be timber framed with a traditional timber door.

In Berwickshire, planning permissions have now been issued for the erection of a total of 75 dwellinghouses on land north-west of Springfield Avenue (SBC Ref: 17/00993/FUL & 18/00994/FUL).  Planning permission was granted in February 2018 subject to a section 75 agreement requiring the provision of a footpath link between the development site and Bridgend Place.  This agreement has now been finalised.  In Tweeddale, planning permission was granted for the development of up to 15 dwellinghouses on land south-west and south-east of Bowbank Cottages, Bellfield Road, Eddleston, subject to the improvement of the private road, which currently serves the site, up to adoptable standards and the improvement of the junction of Bellfield Road and the A703 (SBC Ref: 17/00767/PPP).

During October, the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) reached a decision on the appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a residential development at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 16/01360/PPP) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).  The Reporter in this case decided to allow the appeal and grant planning permission in principle subject to 11 conditions and to a planning obligation under section 75 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 in order to secure a contribution towards affordable housing.  In deciding to allow the appeal, the Reporter, on the basis of the housing land supply information submitted, considered that there was a shortfall in the requirement to maintain a five year effective housing land supply at all times and concluded that there were strong reasons why an exceptional approval should be granted.  Questions will be asked as to how the council carries out its audit of housing land and calculates the supply of effective housing land.  No doubt, these issues will to the fore in the review of the local development plan.

An appeal was submitted to the DPEA on 9 October 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 (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2012).  Interested members of the public are entitled to make representations on the appeal until 6 November.

An appeal against the council’s refusal to issue a Certificate of Lawful Use of a property used in the past as a guest house, as a dwellinghouse, at Camptown, south of Jedburgh  remains to be determined (SBC Ref: 18/00849/CLEU) (DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2002).  Three appeals remain to be determined against the refusal of planning permission: (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 erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (3) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062).

The hearing session 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) was held on Wednesday 15 August in the Waverley Suite at the Transport Interchange, Galashiels.  The Reporter’s report and recommendations have been submitted to Scottish Ministers for their decision.

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.

 

Development Management: September 2018 update

During September 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received over 150 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  There seems to be no end to the desire of wind farm operators to expand the number of wind turbines in the Scottish Borders; another wind farm proposal has been submitted for the Moorfoot Hills.  A Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) was submitted on 6 September for a wind farm of up to 9 turbines with tip heights up to 150 metres at Wull Muir, north of Carcant Lodge, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 18/01164/PAN).  An application for a Scoping Opinion on the same proposal was received on 24 September (SBC Ref: 18/01308/SCO).  In this case, the applicant has voluntarily decided to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to the submission of an application and has formally requested the opinion of Scottish Borders Council on the Scoping Report, which sets out the matters that should be included in an EIA.  The Scoping Report provides an outline of the environmental receptors that the developer considers may be significantly affected by the proposed development and the application for a Scoping Opinion invites comments on the scope of the proposed EIA.

Bearing in mind the attitude of the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee on the recent proposal for a wind farm at Gilston Farm, Heriot and to other proposed wind farms in the area, the Wull Muir proposal is unlikely to be received with much enthusiasm.  No doubt the proposal will figure on a future agenda of the Council’s 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.

Whilst on the subject of wind farms, it will come as no surprise to see that the Planning and Building Standards Committee, at its meeting on 3 September, refused 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).  This was 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.  Is another appeal to the Scottish Government likely?

On the subject of wind farm appeals, official figures from the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division show that, over the past 16 years, 250 wind turbine applications refused by Scottish Councils have been the subject of appeals to Scottish Ministers.  Of these 250 appeals, 104 (41.6%) were successful and planning permission was granted.  In the Scottish Borders, 9 of the 21 appeals dealt with were successful.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee at its meeting on 3 September granted listed building consent for the demolition of St. Aidan’s Church and Church Hall in Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/00309/LBC).  Planning permission and listed building consent had been granted in October 2015 for the demolition of the church hall and the conversion of the church into eleven flats.  However, it was submitted that the repair and conversion of the church is not economically viable, the property has been marketed with no serious interest from prospective purchasers.  Unfortunately, it would appear that demolition and redevelopment is the only alternative!

At its meeting on 17 September, the Local Review Body (LRB) overturned the decision of its Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the change of use of 37 Bank Street, Galashiels from a shop to a mortgage advisers (SBC Ref: 18/00764/FUL; 18/00018/RREF).  The Chief Planning Officer had determined that the change of use was not permissible under the council’s recently approved Pilot Scheme because it offered an inactive frontage and low footfall.  The LRB considered that although the proposed use did not fall within the range of uses identified in the Pilot Scheme, the proposed business would complement other uses in Bank Street and would make a significant positive contribution to the viability of the town centre.  The Local Review Body also overturned the Chief Planning Officers decision to refuse planning permission for the change of use of 52 Bank Street, Galashiels to a tattoo studio (SBC Ref: 18/00398/FUL; 18/00020/RREF).  The LRB considered that, whilst the tattoo studio did not fall within the extended acceptable use categories listed in the Pilot Scheme, policy Ed4 of the approved LDP allows other uses where they make a demonstrable contribution to the retail function of the town centre.  In this instance, the LRB was satisfied that it had been demonstrated that the business would make a significant positive contribution to the town centre and that a sufficiently persuasive case had been made to allow the business.  It will be interesting to see how many more proposals for the change of use of retail premises to other uses come forward in the Galashiels Core Retail Activity Area and whether there is any significant measurable change in footfall or a reduction in vacancy rates as a result.

During September, some 100 applications were dealt with by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  In Berwickshire, planning permission was granted for the erection of 27 affordable dwellinghouses on a site off Station Road, Duns (SBC Ref: 18/00337/FUL) and for the erection of 25 dwellinghouses, a new village hall and formation of playing field on land south and west of Swinton Primary School (SBC Ref: 12/01488/PPP).  Three planning applications were refused: (1) an application for replacement windows on a property in North Hermitage Street, Newcastleton (SBC Ref: 18/00211/FUL); (2) an application for an isolated house in the countryside, near Chapel Farm, between Midlem and Lilliesleaf (SBC Ref: 18/00956/FUL); and (3) an application for a dwellinghouse on a site east of Keleden, Ednam (SBC Ref: [the Local Review Body granted planning permission in principle for a dwellinghouse on the site in July 2018 but the Chief Planning Officer considers that the layout, siting and orientation of the proposed building makes poor use of the plot and the size and scale of the proposed house is too large].

During September, the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) reached a decision on the appeal against the imposition of two conditions on the planning permission, granted on 26 March 2018, for the erection of two wind turbines on land at No. 6 Lamberton Holdings in Berwickshire.  The appealed conditions relate to the requirement to decommission and remove the turbines within 25 years (SBC Ref: 17/01348/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2071).  The Reporter decided to vary the appealed conditions and, given the scale and location of the proposed foundations, deleted the requirement to remove the foundations and restore the site to its original condition when electricity generation ceases.

An appeal against the council’s refusal to issue a Certificate of Lawful Use of a property used in the past as a guest house, as a dwellinghouse, at Camptown, south of Jedburgh was submitted on 25 September 2018 (DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2002).  An interesting case for the DPEA!

Four appeals remain to be determined against the refusal of planning permission: (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 erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (3) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); and (4) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).

The hearing session 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) was held on Wednesday 15 August in the Waverley Suite at the Transport Interchange, Galashiels.  It is expected that the Reporter’s report and recommendations will be submitted to Scottish Ministers in October.

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 the two Fallago Rig applications have been submitted to Scottish Ministers and their decision is awaited.  The Reporter dealing with the Birneyknowe wind farm application submitted his report to Scottish Ministers on 5 September 2018.

 

Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP): September 2018

The council’s Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) was adopted, originally, in 2001 and has been updated by a series of Habitat Action Plans produced between 2003 and 2010.  The LBAP forms the basis for the council’s Supplementary Planning Guidance for Biodiversity, approved in November 2006, and provides guidance on the implementation of policy EP3: Local Biodiversity, in the adopted Local Development Plan.  An updated LBAP, which has been prepared to take account of changes in national policy, was approved by the Planning and Building Standards Committee of Scottish Borders Council on 3 September 2018.

The updated LBAP is organised around the priority themes of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (SBS), which was amended in 2013 in response to both the UN Convention on Biological Diversity targets set in 2010, to halt biodiversity loss and restore the natural environment to health, and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2020.  The SBS themes outline six steps for nature to achieve the 2020 challenge:

  • Ecosystem restoration;
  • Investment in natural capital;
  • Quality greenspace for health and education benefits;
  • Conserving wildlife in Scotland;
  • Sustainable management of land and freshwater; and
  • Sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems.

The updated LBAP takes account of the challenge of climate change, which may disrupt our ecosystems and their ability to provide beneficial services such as water flow regulation to reduce flooding, improvement to water quality, sequestration of carbon on peatlands and woodlands and pollinating services to help food production.  The LBAP seeks to help address the key pressures identified in the SBS: pollution, land use intensification and modification, spread of invasive species and wildlife disease, lack of recognition of the value of nature, disconnection with nature and marine exploitation.  A set of actions has been developed focussed around the six themes set out in the SBS, for delivery within the period 2018-2028 with some actions prioritised for delivery within 5 years.  By updating the LBAP, the council hopes to demonstrate that it is seeking to put in place good practice, working with its partners, to meet its duties in relation to biodiversity and climate change.  The updated LBAP will provide up-to-date and relevant guidance on how ecosystems can be valued and assessed as part of policy development in the local development plan.

The updated LBAP will be the subject of public consultation in parallel with the consultations on the recently approved Main Issues Report (MIR) prepared to identify the key issues to be addressed in the new local development plan LDP2).  The updated LBAP will ultimately form proposed Supplementary Guidance in the new local development plan (LDP2).  Biodiversity may seem, to many, to be a rather bewildering subject but protecting and maintaining the natural environment, habitats and wildlife is essential for our future on planet earth.  We can all play our part so get involved in the forthcoming discussions on the Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP).