Development Planning: New Year 2018

At the end of 2017, Scottish Borders Council approved Supplementary Guidance and a Simplified Planning Zone Scheme for the Central Borders Business Park at Tweedbank.  The purpose of the Supplementary Guidance is to provide a framework for the future development of sites within the Central Borders Business Park, which includes Tweedbank Industrial Estate, Tweedside Business Park (to the north of Tweedbank Drive) and land between Tweedside Business Park and Tweedbank Train Station.  The purpose of the Simplified Planning Zone (SPZ) is to allow development to take place within the Central Borders Business Park without the need for planning permission so long as it complies with certain parameters and conditions.

It is the council’s view that the arrival of the Borders Railway offers a significant opportunity to capitalise on the existing industrial park and provide a supply of high quality business and industrial land to serve the Central Borders.  It is proposed that the current industrial park will be redeveloped with the refurbishment and reconfiguration of existing buildings to provide twenty-first century manufacturing and office facilities.  It will be marketed as the Borders Innovation Park.  The Supplementary Guidance indicates how sites could be developed, identifies opportunities, highlights potential constraints and encourages high quality design and layout.  The SPZ effectively grants planning permission in advance for specific types of development within defined areas.  Within specified areas of the Central Borders Business Park the permitted uses include business, general industrial, storage/distribution, hotel and limited retail floor space uses.  Developments that fall outwith the scope of the SPZ would require planning permission in the normal way.  All proposals would require Building Standards approval but procedures allow for the fast-tracking of building warrant applications relating to inward investment proposals.  The SPZ, therefore, offers scope to change the use of premises, build new premises and/or alter and extend existing buildings without the need for a formal planning application subject to compliance with the detailed parameters and conditions detailed in the document.

The Council approved the Supplementary Guidance and the Simplified Planning Zone Scheme on 30 November 2017 for submission to the Scottish Ministers for approval.  Once approved by the Scottish Ministers, the Supplementary Guidance would formally become part of the Adopted Local Development Plan 2016.

As part of the Borders Railway Blueprint programme, masterplans for Tweedbank and Galashiels commissioned from independent consultants were presented to the Scottish Borders Council on 25 January 2018.  These masterplans present a number of proposals to attract inward investment through both public and private sector funding and encourage people to work, live and visit the Borders.  The Masterplan for Tweedbank, prepared by Proctor Matthews Architects, incorporates land on the Lowood Estate between the railway line and the River Tweed.  This area of approximately 34 hectares is identified for a mix of residential and business development in the Adopted Local Development Plan 2016, as amended by the Housing Supplementary Guidance, approved by Scottish Ministers on 9 November 2017.  The Tweedbank Masterplan, as well as identifying the potential for some 300 houses and land for new business development at Lowood, also highlights the opportunity to create a new square at the train station with cafes, offices and apartments.  It is expected that this initiative, together with increased car parking provision, will reinforce Tweedbank as a hub for visitors arriving by train to explore the surrounding tourist attractions and countryside of the Borders.  The Tweedbank Masterplan will be taken forward in the Local Development Plan 2, which is in the course of preparation and will replace the adopted local development plan.

At the same meeting, the council also discussed an outline masterplan for the future regeneration of the centre of Galashiels.  The masterplan, prepared by Stallan Brand Architects, provides a vision for the future of the town centre and demonstrates how the area could be developed to maximise the full economic potential of the Borders Railway.  It focusses on the delivery of residential, retail and business space to help regenerate the town centre, with the opening of the Great Tapestry of Scotland Visitor Centre as the catalyst for further projects.  The masterplan highlights the potential opportunities for development and improvement of six zones within the town centre: Stirling Street; Channel Street/Market Square; Overhaugh Street; Bridge Street; Sime Place and Park Street; and an area alongside the Gala Water stretching from Buckholmside to Langhaugh and alongside the Mill Lade from Bank Street to Roxburgh Street.

The masterplan reviews eight potential sites for a hotel in the town centre without reaching any conclusion as to the most appropriate and feasible site.  It also includes a proposal for the extension of Market Square between Channel Street and Overhaugh Street into a larger and more flexible events and activities space.  Consultations on the masterplan have been held with the community and local businesses, arts and tourism organisations and councillors agreed that the masterplan proposals should be taken into account in the preparation of the Local Development Plan 2.

The preparation of Local Development Plan 2 is progressing.  According to the council’s Development Plan Scheme November 2017, the next stage in the process is the preparation of a Main Issues Report (MIR), which will focus on the key areas of change from the adopted local development plan and will present a range of development options for comment and discussion. The publication of this document is a key stage in terms of public consultation as it is from the views and comments expressed on the development options in the MIR that the council will decide on the way forward.  The formal consultation on the MIR is planned for the summer of this year (2018) so keep an eye out for the announcements that will emanate from the council publicising the publication of this document and the opportunities to submit representations on the various development options.

This post on development planning in the Scottish Borders would not be complete without a tribute to John Crawford, known to many as ‘Choppy’, who died on 3 February 2018.  John, a Melrosian through and through, was the driving force behind house-builders, J. S. Crawford, for fifty years.  He took over from his father Jim, who founded the company in 1946, in 1963 and built the firm into the largest construction company in the Scottish Borders and the largest private house builder before the volume house builders moved in during the 1990s.  Throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Crawford Builders built houses in almost every town and village in the Central Borders, from Kelso to Hawick and from Jedburgh to Melrose, Galashiels and Selkirk.  John was an astute businessman and I remember well the challenges he presented to the Borders Regional Council’s Planning and Development Department. We did not always see eye-to-eye but John was always a fair adversary.  He will be sadly missed and my sincere condolences go to his wife and family.

 

Development Management: New Year 2018

During the calendar year 2017, the Scottish Borders Council received and determined over 1500 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to trees.  Of these applications, approximately 80 were refused consent (5.3%).  Only nine planning applications were refused by the Planning and Building Standards Committee during 2017 and eight of these decisions were the subject of an appeal to the Scottish Ministers; the ninth refusal related to the council’s own waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, Galashiels, refused planning permission in April 2017, a decision that was overturned at a subsequent meeting in November.  Clearly, prospective developers do not easily take no for an answer.

Some seventy applications were refused under delegated powers by the Appointed Officer, the Chief Planning Officer.  The Local Review Body (LRB) dealt with some 38 requests to review the decision of the Appointed Officer to either refuse planning permission or grant planning permission subject to conditions.  Sixteen of these requests, where the LRB decided to reverse the decision of the Appointed Officer and grant planning permission, were successful.  The LRB upheld the Appointed Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission in 22 cases.

Two appeals to Scottish Ministers against the refusal of planning permission by the Planning and Building Standards Committee were sustained by a Reporter from the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) in 2017: the change of use of 6-8 Douglas Bridge, Galashiels from retail units to offices for the relocation of the Job Centre (SBC Ref: 17/00039/REF); and the part change of use of Hartree House, Kilbucho in Peeblesshire and the erection of marquees for use as a wedding venue (SBC Ref: 17/00012/COND).  An appeal against the council’s refusal to discharge two obligations, which required that Broadmeadows Farm, Hutton in Berwickshire should be farmed as a single agricultural unit and that no further dwellinghouses should be erected on the farm, was also sustained (SBC Ref: 17/00005/REF).  One appeal was dismissed; against the refusal of planning permission for the erection of storage and distribution buildings and the erection of an ancillary dwellinghouse on land north east of the Old Creamery, Dolphinton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 17/00041/REF).

Seven appeals to Scottish Ministers against the refusal of planning permission remain outstanding: (1) for the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2069); (2) 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); (3) for residential development on land to the east of the Edinburgh Road in Peebles (SBC Ref: 17/00015/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2067); (4) for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (5) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); (6) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059); and (7) a proposed windfarm of 8 turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, also in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2060).

Following the Scottish Ministers controversial decision to approve the construction of a 14 turbine wind farm at Whitelaw Brae, near Tweedsmuir in Peeblesshire in early December, 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).  How will these applications be determined?

Six windfarm proposals, with a total of 54 turbines are, therefore, the subject of referral to the Scottish Ministers for a decision.  A lot rests on the shoulders of the Reporters of the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA).

Applications for more windfarms continue to be submitted.  A request for a Scoping Opinion on the installation of up to 49 wind turbines near Fawside, south- west of Hawick was received on 11 January (SBC Ref: 18/00052/SCO).  The site straddles the Scottish Borders/Dumfries and Galloway border with the main access from the A7 at Teviothead.  The submitted Scoping Report outlines the development proposals and the aspects of the environment that will be addressed in the Environmental Impact Assessment.  The council has until 9th March to respond to the Scoping Report unless any time extensions are agreed.  This proposal will no doubt generate a great deal of interest amongst the local communities of Teviothead and Craik, and further afield.

After a relatively quiet period, the New Year has heralded the submission of a number of housing proposals in the Scottish Borders.  A Proposal of Application for more residential development at Sergeants Park, Newtown St. Boswells was submitted on 3 January on behalf of Eildon Housing Association (SBC Ref: 17/01758/PAN).  A community engagement event in the form of a drop-in event will be held between 5.00pm and 8.00pm on 24 January 2018 in the Newtown Community Wing on Sprouston Road.  The proposed development would extend the already approved development of 49 houses and four flats by Eildon Housing on land west of the King George V Playing Field.  A planning application has also been received from M & J Ballantyne of Kelso, on behalf of Eildon Housing Association, for the erection of 30 dwellinghouses and 2 flats on land at Howden Drive, Jedburgh.  The site is allocated for housing in the Local Development Plan.

A Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) has been submitted by Rural Renaissance Ltd for the development of housing and associated roads, car parking and landscaping, at The Croft on Dingleton Road, Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/00016/PAN).  This site has a long history of planning proposals and this proposal will no doubt attract a great deal of interest amongst the population of Melrose.  A public exhibition of the proposed development will be held in Melrose Rugby Club from 2.00pm until 7.30pm on Wednesday 31 January where there will be an opportunity to question the applicant and their design team.  According to the agents for the proposal, feedback from the public is at the heart of this consultation process so all those interested in the future of this site should make their views known.  In accordance with statutory procedures, a planning application for the proposed development cannot be submitted less than 12 weeks from the submission of the PAN, so it will be April, at least, before any formal planning application is received by the Scottish Borders Council.  The planning application will require to be accompanied by a Pre-Application Consultation Report setting out the public consultations that have taken place and the responses received.

On 8 January, the Planning and Building Standards Committee, at its first meeting of 2018 gave planning permission for the erection of an Intergenerational Community Campus at Hartrigge Park in Jedburgh.  This £32m complex will replace the existing Parkside and Howdenburn Primary Schools and the Jedburgh Grammar Schools into a single school campus.  Concerns regarding the suitability of Waterside Road for construction traffic and for traffic to and from the campus when operational are to be further investigated.  The campus is not expected to be open before 2020.

Looking ahead, will more wind farms be approved by Scottish Ministers against the wishes of Scottish Borders Council and the local community.  Will the Scottish Borders Council finalise its Renewable Energy Supplementary Guidance, prepared in draft in December 2016 or will it continue to rely on its supplementary planning guidance on wind energy approved in May 2011, which does not comply with Scottish Government Policy.  On the wider planning issues, the council’s Housing Supplementary Guidance, which identified additional housing sites to provide for a further 926 housing units, was adopted by the council in November 2017 and now forms part of the Adopted Local Development Plan 2016.

In relation to the review of the local development plan, the next step is the production of a Main Issues Report (MIR) which identifies the issues that require to be tackled and identifies preferred and alternative solutions.  The MIR is expected during the Spring/Summer of 2018, following which a wide-ranging consultation programme will ensure.  If you want to be involved, let the council know by emailing the Forward Planning Team on localplan@scotborders.gov.uk.

Development Management: Christmas 2017 update

During December 2017, the council received 91 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.

Of particular interest to those who reside in Lauder and Lauderdale  is the proposal for a tourism development of up to around 500 static and 50 touring caravans, with associated facilities, on land at Thirlestane Castle known as The Ranch, located to the north of the burgh on the east side of the A68.  A public exhibition of the proposals is to be organised in Lauder on some, as yet, unspecified date (SBC Ref: 17/01669/PAN).  Another interesting proposal in the Lauder area is a proposal for a falcon breeding facility with chambers and quarantine area on land at Woodheads Farm on the south side of the Galashiels Road opposite the golf course (SBC Ref: 17/01644/FUL).

Another tourism development is proposed for Peeblesshire, with the receipt of a planning application for the erection of a holiday complex comprising 56 timber cabins, central hub, cycle store and managers accommodation on land at Kittlegairy Hill, north of Linnburn Farmhouse at Glentress, outside Peebles (SBC Ref: 17/01633/FUL).  Proposals have also been received for the demolition of the existing service station on Innerleithen Road, Peebles and the redevelopment of the site with a new filling station and shop (SBC Ref: 17/01694/FUL).

Another development that is likely to benefit tourism in the Borders, more particularly in Galashiels, is the proposal for a hotel, residential and retail development on the former Burgh Yard at Braw Lads Brae in Galashiels (SBC Ref: 17/01597/PPP).  Few details are available and it remains to be seen whether this proposal will become a reality.

Of interest to those in Duns is the application by Trust Housing for 30 Extra care self-contained flats with communal facilities and 19 amenity bungalows on land west of Todlaw Road (SBC Ref: 17/01710/FUL).

During the same period, the council decided 99 applications, only seven of which were refused planning permission.  Five of the refusals of planning permission related to the erection of dwellinghouses, either in the countryside or in small settlements.  In relation to approvals, of particular note is the proposal for the demolition of flats and two dwellinghouses, owned by Eildon Housing Association, at Tweedbridge Court, Peebles (17/01529/HON.  These were constructed in the early 1970s and have outlived their useful life.  No proposals have been lodged with the planning authority for the redevelopment of the site but the site is earmarked for housing redevelopment on the local development plan.

The Local Review Body (LRB) met on 18 December to consider requests for the review of three decisions made by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers to refuse planning permission.  Two of these decisions: in relation to the change of use of agricultural land to form a storage yard and the siting of seven storage containers at Greenbraehead, Hawick (SBC Ref: 17/00046/RREF); and the change of use from retail (Class 1) to a mix of Class 1 and Class 2 to allow a Podiatry Clinic at 40-41 The Square, Kelso (SBC Ref: 17/00047/RREF), were overturned and planning permission was granted.  In the case of the proposal for the erection of a dwellinghouse on land adjacent to Deanfoot Cottage on Deanfoot Road, West Linton, the LRB upheld the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission (SBC Ref: 17/00045/RREF).

As previously intimated, the Planning and Building Standards Committee, at its meeting on 6 November, refused planning permission for the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk against the advice of the Chief Planning Officer (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL).  As expected, an appeal against this decision has now been submitted to the Scottish Ministers (the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2069).  An appeal has also been submitted in relation to the refusal of planning permission by the Planning and Building Standards Committee on 2 October 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).  An appeal has also been submitted in relation to the refusal of planning permission by the Planning and Building Standards Committee at the same meeting for residential development on land to the east of the Edinburgh Road in Peebles (SBC Ref: 17/00015/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2067).

Five other appeals remain outstanding, in respect of (1) a proposed poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (2) the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); (3) the erection of storage and distribution buildings and an ancillary dwellinghouse on land outside Dolphinton (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2063); (4) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059); and (5) a proposed windfarm of eight turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, also in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2060).

Four applications for windfarms, submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remained to be determined at the end of November.  An inquiry into the application for a 14 turbine wind farm at Whitelaw Brae, near Tweedsmuir in Peeblesshire was held in September 2016.  Scottish Ministers have now made their decision on the report of the inquiry and have decided to approve this controversial proposal much to the dismay of the local MP, David Mundell, the local community and outdoor organisations such as Mountaineering Scotland and the John Muir Trust (see DPEA case reference WIN-140-4).

An inquiry into the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills and the application to extend the operational life of the existing wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) was held in August 2017.  The details of both cases can be found on the DPEA website (case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6).  It will be 2018 before a decision on these applications is forthcoming.  An application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick, to which the Scottish Borders Council, the community council, many residents of the local community and others have objected is to be the subject of further examination.  A pre-examination meeting to discuss and agree the scope and programming of the subsequent inquiry and hearing was held in the Hawick Rugby Club Rooms on 25 October 2017.  The inquiry and hearing sessions have been provisionally programmed for March 2018 so this case has a long way to run (see DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).

Well, 2018 is going to be an interesting year; will more wind farms be approved by Scottish Ministers against the wishes of Scottish Borders Council and the local community.  Will the Scottish Borders Council finalise its Renewable Energy Supplementary Guidance, prepared in draft in December 2016 or will it continue to rely on its supplementary planning guidance on wind energy approved in May 2011, which does not comply with Scottish Government Policy.  We shall have to wait and see.

Development Management: November 2017 update

During November 2017, the council received 121 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  During the same period, the council decided 106 applications, only six of which were refused planning permission.

On 14 November, planning permission was granted, under delegated powers, for an additional 43 static holiday lodges/caravans at the Lilliardsedge Holiday Park, located within the woodland strip that runs alongside the A68 north of Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 16/01342/FUL).

On 22 November, planning permission and listed building consent was granted, under delegated powers, for the erection of the gallery and the change of use of the old post office in Channel Street, Galashiels to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland, which is made up of 160 hand-stitched panels depicting the history of Scotland from 8,500BC.  This proposal requires the demolition of the former “Poundstretchers” retail unit at 14-20 High Street and substantial internal and external alterations to the former post office building (see SBC Refs: 17/01300/FUL, 17/01301/LBC & 17/01302/CON).  The project will cost in excess of £6.5m and is expected to be completed in early 2020.  It is estimated it will attract over 50,000 visitors a year.  The council has described it as “one of the most significant town centre economic development projects of recent years”.  The revitalisation of Galashiels town centre has come a step closer!

As intimated in the previous post, dated 13 November 2017, the Planning and Building Standards Committee on 6 November decided to grant planning permission for the council’s waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 17/01149/FUL), notwithstanding a valiant effort by the Coopersknowe and Easter Langlee Residents Association and objections from other nearby residents.  The Planning and Building Standards Committee also approved the erection of five dwellinghouses on land south-east of Craigard on Canongate in Denholm, against the wishes of Denholm and District Community Council and a number of objectors (SBC Ref: 17/00228/FUL).  The committee accepted the view of the Chief Planning Officer that the proposed development would represent an acceptable form of infill development consistent with local development plan policies.  At the same meeting, the committee approved the change of use of a joiner’s workshop at The Row, Allanton in Berwickshire into a dwellinghouse notwithstanding a number of objections from neighbouring householders and the concerns of Edrom, Allanton and Whitsome Community Council regarding access to the property and parking difficulties (SBC Ref: 17/00652/FUL).

The Local Review Body (LRB) met on 8 November to continue consideration of a request to review the refusal of planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers for the erection of a micro meat processing unit and byre on land at Hardiesmill Place, Gordon in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 17/00239/FUL & 17/00036/RREF).  Following a site visit and consideration of additional information, the LRB decided that the positive economic benefits of the proposal to the business at Hardiesmill Place and to the wider economy outweighed the visual impact of the proposed building and granted planning permission for the proposed development.  The LRB also met on 20 November to consider requests for the review of four decisions made by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers to refuse planning permission.  Two of these decisions related to developments at Kirkburn, Cardrona; the erection of a hay shed and a tractor shed (SBC Refs: 17/01112/FUL & 17/01113/FUL).  In both these cases, the LRB decided that the officer’s decision to refuse the planning application be upheld.  The LRB also decided to uphold the officer’s decision to refuse a retrospective planning application for the erection of a boundary fence at 33 Justice Park, Oxton (SBC Ref: 17/00308/FUL).  However, the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse a planning application for alterations and extension to a dwellinghouse at 1 Glenkinnon, near Ashiestiel Bridge, Clovenfords was reversed by four votes to three (SBC Ref: 17/00472/FUL).

As previously intimated in the post, dated 13 November 2017, the Planning and Building Standards Committee, at its meeting on 6 November, refused planning permission for the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk against the advice of the Chief Planning Officer (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL).  After continuing the application from the previous meeting for a site visit, the committee also decided to refuse planning permission, against the advice of the Chief Planning Officer, for the erection of a poultry building to house 32,000 free-range birds at Hutton Hall Barns, west of Hutton village in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 17/00623/FUL).

The number of appeals to Scottish Ministers against the council’s refusal of planning permission continues to rise.  The applicant in respect of the refusal of planning permission for the proposed poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns has wasted no time in submitting an appeal to Scottish Ministers (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065).  Four other appeals remain outstanding, in respect of: (1) the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); (2) the erection of storage and distribution buildings and an ancillary dwellinghouse on land outside Dolphinton (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2063); (3) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059); and (4) a proposed windfarm of eight turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, also in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2060).  The appeal against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the relocation of the Job Centre to retail units on Douglas Bridge, Galashiels was upheld on 30 November.  In allowing the appeal, the Reporter considered that there was no evidence that the loss of the two retail units proposed for the Job Centre would result in a shortage of retail units available to let either within the Galashiels town centre Core Activity Area (CAA) or the town centre as a whole.  The Reporter considered that the proposed use would make a significant positive contribution to the core retail function of the CAA and would enhance the character, vitality, viability and mixed use nature of the town centre.

Four applications for windfarms, submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remain to be determined.  An inquiry into the application for a 14 turbine wind farm at Whitelaw Brae, near Tweedsmuir in Peeblesshire was held in September 2016.  The report of the inquiry has been sent to Scottish Ministers for determination and a decision is awaited (see DPEA case reference WIN-140-4).  An inquiry into the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills and the application to extend the operational life of the existing wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) was held in August 2017.  The details of both cases can be found on the DPEA website (case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6).  It is likely to be next year before a decision on these applications is forthcoming.  An application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick, to which the Scottish Borders Council, the community council, many residents of the local community and others have objected is to be the subject of further examination.  A pre-examination meeting to discuss and agree the scope and programming of the subsequent inquiry and hearing was held in the Hawick Rugby Club Rooms on 25 October 2017.  The inquiry and hearing sessions have been provisionally programmed for March 2018 so this case has a long way to run (see DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).

Development Management: November Committee follow-up

As expected, the Planning and Building Standards Committee decided, on 6 November, to grant planning permission for the council’s proposed waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 17/01149/FUL).  The Committee was persuaded that the additional measures proposed to improve the Langshaw Road (C77), particularly the installation of street-lighting, were sufficient to overcome any road safety concerns.  Planning permission was granted subject to fifteen conditions which require, amongst other things, the submission before development commences of a Construction Environment Management Plan (CEMP) to include a Risk Assessment, Drainage Management Plan and a Site Waste Management Plan; a Species Protection Plan, Ground Investigation Report, a Scheme for road improvements, including street lighting and a Construction Traffic Management Plan.  No doubt, the Coopersknowe and Easter Langlee Residents Association and other nearby residents, who opposed the proposed development, will keep an eye on the progress of the preparation and approval of these various plans BEFORE development commences.

Another controversial application, for the construction of a windfarm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL), was refused by the Committee against the advice of the Chief Planning Officer.  The Committee considered that the proposal was contrary to policy ED9 of the adopted Local Development Plan on the grounds that it would have unacceptable significant adverse impacts on the landscape character and visual amenity of the locality and would dominate residential properties at nearby Langburnshiels.  The Committee also felt that the proposal would give rise to significant and unacceptable impacts upon the setting and appreciation of known archaeological sites and a historic landscape.  In reaching this decision, the committee placed more weight on the fact that the proposed turbines, seven of which were 149.9m high to the blade tip and five of which were 130m high to the blade tip, exceeded the threshold of 120m identified in the 2016 Ironside Farrar Landscape Capacity Report which forms the basis for the council’s draft Supplementary Planning Guidance on Renewable Energy.  Although this draft supplementary guidance has been out to public consultation, it has not yet been adopted by the council.  Council officers attached more weight to the 2013 Ironside Farrar Landscape Capacity and Cumulative Impact Study, which offers some support for wind farms with ‘very large’ turbines over 100m high at this location.  If there is an appeal to Scottish Ministers against this decision, it will be interesting to see what the Reporter from the Department for Environmental and Planning Appeals decides.

After continuing the application from the previous meeting for a site visit, the Planning and Building Standards Committee also decided to refuse planning permission for the erection of a poultry building to house 32,000 free-range birds at Hutton Hall Barns, west of Hutton village in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 17/00623/FUL).  Although the Chief Planning Officer considered that there was clear support for the proposal in that the proposed development met the requirements of the Council’s policies on economic development within the countryside and any adverse impact of the proposed building on the landscape and nearby residential properties would be limited, the Committee considered that the proposed development was inappropriate to the rural character of the area and would have an unacceptable adverse visual impact on existing residential properties.  The Committee also considered that the development would result in the permanent loss of prime agricultural land, contrary to policy ED10 of the Local Development Plan.  The Committee was also concerned that no evidence had been provided to demonstrate that the proposed development would not give rise to the unacceptable pollution of the adjoining watercourse to the detriment of the water environment and local biodiversity.  The applicant has already intimated their desire to appeal to Scottish Ministers against this decision.

Development Management: October update

During October 2017, the council received 128 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.

Of particular interest to residents of Chirnside in Berwickshire is a Proposal of Application Notice by Springfield Properties for a proposed residential development of 57 affordable dwellings on land west of Borlaroc, Main Street, East End, Chirnside, received by the council on 2 October 2017 (SBC Ref: 17/01367/PAN) [Springfield Properties have also submitted a Proposal of Application Notice for a similar development at Langtongate in Duns (see September update)].  It is proposed to hold a one day public exhibition/drop in event of the proposals in the Chirnside Community Centre on Monday 13 November from early afternoon to early evening.  If you want to register your interest and be kept informed of the proposal, you should make the effort and attend.

An exciting prospect for Eyemouth, is the proposal by Eyemouth Harbour Trust for a helicopter access facility comprising two helipads, hanger, office and welfare building, fuel storage area and car parking on the eastern headland at Gunsgreenhill (SBC Ref: 17/01451/FUL).  The proposed development would provide an opportunity for Eyemouth Harbour to provide facilities for Scotland’s emerging offshore renewable energy industry.  Although discussions have been held with an offshore wind developer, there is no identified end user at the present time and the proposal is highly speculative.  The proposed plans, therefore, illustrate the potential maximum extent of the development.

Another proposal, which will no doubt be of great interest to residents of Jedburgh, is a planning application for the demolition of the existing Parkside Primary School and its replacement by an Intergenerational Community Campus, incorporating nursery, primary and secondary educational provision for the Jedburgh area (SBC Ref: 17/01363/FUL).  The site has been considered for residential development in the past but is unallocated in the adopted Local Development Plan 2016.  The proposal was the subject of extensive consultation earlier this year.  Nevertheless, this planning application for a major development on the green area between Hartrigge Crescent and Mainetti’s Factory is likely to produce a great deal of comment.

During October 2017, the council decided some 107 applications, only ten of which were refused.  On the 2 October, after over an hour’s deliberation, the Planning and Building Standards Committee refused planning permission for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL).  Although there were strong representations from the local community in relation to the noise effects on nearby residential properties, the proposed wind farm was refused planning permission on the grounds of landscape and visual impact and its potential to disrupt radar operations at Edinburgh Airport.  Will there be another wind farm appeal for the council to contend with?

At the same meeting, planning permission was refused contrary to the recommendation of the Chief Planning Officer, by five votes to four, for the erection of a second poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (SBC Ref: 16/01377/FUL).  The Committee considered that the proposed poultry building would have an unacceptable adverse impact on the amenity and character of the surrounding area, a National Scenic Area.  The applicant has wasted no time in submitting an appeal to the Scottish Ministers.  It will be for a Reporter from the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals to decide the appeal.

A third planning application refused at the meeting on 2 October related to proposed residential development on land to the east of Edinburgh Road, Peebles (SBC Ref: 17/00015/FUL).  This site was considered and discounted during the Local Development Plan process and was rejected by the Scottish Government Reporter who undertook the LDP Examination.  It was also discounted from inclusion in the subsequent Supplementary Guidance on Housing.

There was success at the meeting on 2 October, however, for the application to erect a dwellinghouse on land south and east of the Old School and Old School House at Blainslie, south of Lauder (SBC Ref: 17/01055/PPP).  Although the Chief Planning Officer considered the proposal to be contrary to housing in the countryside policy, the Planning and Building Standards Committee decided, on a vote of 6 votes to 3 votes, to grant planning permission in principle subject to nine conditions on the grounds that the new dwelling together with the neighbouring two properties should be deemed to be part of Nether Blainslie Village for historic reasons and their proximity to Blainslie, notwithstanding that they are currently outwith the development boundary of the village.

The Local Review Body (LRB) met on 16 October to consider requests for the review of six decisions made by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers to refuse planning permission.  Three of these decisions related to developments at Kirkburn, Cardrona.  In all of these cases, the LRB decided that the officer’s decision to refuse the planning application be upheld.  The LRB also decided to uphold the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for replacement windows and the installation of a chimney flue at 5 High Street, Innerleithen, but only after the holding of a hearing session, which the applicant did not attend, to consider in detail the technical aspects of the case.  The officer’s decision to refuse a planning application to allow the short term letting of ancillary accommodation at Jordonlaw Granary, Westruther was reversed subject to the provision of an additional parking space.  The review of the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse on land at Rhymers Mill, Earlston was continued to allow a hearing to be held to consider flooding issues.

At the forthcoming meeting of the Planning and Building Standards Committee on 6 November, the re-application for the council’s own waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 17/01149/FUL) will be considered.  This proposal, previously refused planning permission in April 2017 on the grounds that the Langshaw Road (C77) is inadequate for the additional traffic likely to be generated, has resulted in a number of objections from local residents and from Galashiels Community Council.  However, the council’s Director of Assets and Infrastructure insists that all options have been investigated and Easter Langlee remains the best choice.  The waste transfer station will replace a long-standing infill operation.  The Chief Planning Officer considers that, although the additional measures proposed to improve the C77 do not address all the physical constraints of this road, the proposal is acceptable and is recommending planning permission be granted, subject to a number of conditions.  Whether the Committee agrees will be revealed on the 6th.

Another controversial application, for the construction of a windfarm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk, is to be considered by the Committee on 6 November (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL).  84 representations have been received in respect of this proposal, 54 objections and 30 in support of the proposal.  Southdean, Denholm, Hawick, Hobkirk and Upper Teviot and Borthwick Water Community Councils have objected and Newcastleton Community Council has raised concerns.  Nevertheless, the Chief Planning Officer is recommending that planning permission should be granted subject to wide-ranging conditions.  It will be seen whether the Planning and Building Standards Committee agree or decide to refuse planning permission.  Is there another wind farm appeal on the horizon?

In addition to the appeal in respect of the refusal of planning permission for the erection of a second poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062), an appeal has now been submitted in respect of the refusal of planning permission, by the Planning and Building Standards Committee on 7 August, for the erection of storage and distribution buildings and an ancillary dwellinghouse on land outside Dolphinton (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2063).  Three other appeals remain outstanding: (1) against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire; (2) against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a proposed windfarm of eight turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, also in Berwickshire; and (3) against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the relocation of the Job Centre in Galashiels to retail units on Douglas Bridge, Galashiels.  Details of the appeals can be found on the DPEA website (case references PPA-140-2059, PPA-140-2060 & PPA-140-2061).

Four applications for windfarms, submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Electricity Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remain to be determined.  An inquiry into the application for a 14 turbine wind farm at Whitelaw Brae, near Tweedsmuir in Peeblesshire was held in September 2016.  The report of the inquiry has been sent to Scottish Ministers for determination and a decision is awaited (see DPEA case reference WIN-140-4).  An inquiry into the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills and the application to extend the operational life of the existing wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) was held in August 2017.  The details of both cases can be found on the DPEA website (case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6).  It is likely to be next year before a decision on these applications is forthcoming.  An application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick, to which the Scottish Borders Council, the community council, many residents of the local community and others have objected is to be the subject of further examination.  A pre-examination meeting to discuss and agree the scope and programming of the subsequent inquiry was held in the Hawick Rugby Club Rooms on 25 October 2017.  The inquiry and hearing sessions have been provisionally programmed for March 2018 so this case has a long way to run (see DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).

Local Development Plan Update: October 2017

The drop-in and workshop sessions organised by Scottish Borders Council at eight locations for those people who are interested in the future development of the Scottish Borders have now finished.  The purpose of these sessions was to encourage the public to contribute to the Local Development Plan process.  Attendance levels have varied, as one might expect; the sessions at Peebles and Galashiels were very well attended, but others less so.  The issues raised have covered a wide range of topics, from the need for a new bridge over the Tweed in Peebles, a by-pass for Selkirk and the safeguarding of the Waverley Route all the way to the border with England to the need for more flexibility towards uses within the region’s town centres and the greater use of brownfield sites rather than greenfield sites for new housing.  There are differing opinions, of course, but the purpose of the workshop sessions was to allow these opinions to be expressed and debated.

Housing land allocation does not appear to be a major issue.  If the Scottish Ministers go along with the additional housing land allocations proposed by the council in the Housing Supplementary Guidance, approved by Scottish Borders Council in August (see post on Draft Housing Supplementary Guidance, 30 August 2017), it would seem that few additional sites will be required in the new Local Development Plan.  This assumes that none of the existing allocated sites are removed from the Plan but there are question marks over sites that have been in the Local Development Plan for some years yet remain undeveloped.  If such sites are removed, replacements are likely to be required.

Town centre regeneration is a major issue, particularly in towns such as Galashiels, Hawick and Selkirk, but there are no easy answers.  There are different views on the alternative use of empty shop premises on the prime retail frontages in these town centres, on the encouragement of a mix of uses within town centres, including more residential uses, and the provision and regulation of car parking.  The key would appear to be the generation of increased footfall but how to do this remains a thorny problem.

The pressure for more wind farms continues unabated and this will be a major issue for the new Local Development Plan; turbines up to 200 metres to tip height are now being considered by developers.  Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) requires Local Development Plans to set out a spatial framework for wind farms which identifies: (1) areas where wind farms will not be acceptable, (2) areas of significant protection where wind farms may be appropriate in some circumstances, and (3) areas where wind farms are likely to be acceptable, subject to detailed consideration against identified criteria.  Scottish Borders Council has prepared Draft Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy, which includes a wind energy spatial framework.  When finalised, this will require to be incorporated within the Local Development Plan.  Meanwhile, proposals for wind farms continue to cause a great deal of anxiety amongst a number of communities.

The next step in the local development plan process is for the Council to produce a Main Issues Report (MIR), which identifies the issues that require to be tackled by the Plan and identifies preferred and alternative solutions.  The issues to be considered include:

  • identification of housing land;
  • employment land provision;
  • regeneration of town centres;
  • protection of the built environment;
  • promotion of placemaking and good design;
  • road and transport improvements;
  • renewable energy and addressing climate change;
  • protection of greenspace;
  • protection of the natural environment; and
  • protection of the Borders landscape.

Public engagement is a key part of the development plan process.  If you don’t make your views known, they can’t be considered.  The closing date for the submission of views and comments at this stage of the process is 27 October 2017.  All the submissions made at the drop-in sessions and at the workshops, and those submitted in writing, including the questionnaires distributed at the drop-in sessions, will be considered in the preparation of the MIR.

It will be the spring of next year (2018) before the MIR is finalised by the Council.  A wide-ranging consultation programme will follow during the summer of 2018 before the preparation of the local development plan itself commences in the autumn of 2018 and it will be the autumn of 2019 before the proposed new local development plan (LDP2) is completed.  Once adopted, the new Local Development Plan (LDP2) will replace the current Local Development Plan, adopted on 12 May 2016.  The new plan, LDP2, will guide future development for the period 2012-2026.