County Planning in the 1940s and 50s: Berwickshire County Council

Berwickshire County Council established its Town and Country Planning Committee in June 1944 to deal with the first applications for planning permission under the Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) (Scotland) Act 1943.  Lord Home [the father of Sir Alec Douglas-Home] was elected Chairman of the new committee.  T. D. Anderson, from the council’s Roads Department was appointed Planning Officer, although he had no qualifications in town and country planning.  He had a typist to assist him!  Minor applications were dealt with by the County Clerk, in consultation with the Planning Officer.  T. D. Anderson was also charged with undertaking a survey of the county, apart from Eyemouth Burgh where the Burgh Surveyor was asked to undertake this task.

In March 1946, the Government’s Department of Health for Scotland, which had the responsibility for planning at national level, met the council’s Town and Country Planning Committee to discuss the way forward, little progress having been made on the survey of the county.  The Department of Health considered that additional staff were required and recommended the appointment of two planning assistants and a draughtsman in addition to the Planning Officer and his typist.  However, the council considered that the size of the county did not warrant such a large department and was content with its Planning Officer and typist in support.  Over the next year, the Department of Health for Scotland made further attempts to persuade the council to enlarge its staff but, with only an average of five planning applications a month, the council was not persuaded.

In March 1947, the council decided to merge the Planning and Property & Works Departments and T. D. Anderson took up the post of head of the new department.  Two members of staff were transferred from the council’s Public Health Department to assist with the additional workload but all planning matters remained the responsibility of  T.D. Anderson alone.  In the immediate post-war period, the majority of planning applications submitted related to proposals by the burgh councils for new local authority housing and the majority of these applications were dealt with expeditiously.  However, the burgh councils were consulted on all other applications submitted within their areas and this meant that these applications took longer, which was a cause for concern.

Following the dissolution of the Central and South-East Scotland Regional Advisory Committee, which had overseen the Frank Mears Study, and the enactment of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1947, which introduced development plans, the four border counties discussed how development planning might be co-ordinated across the Scottish Borders.  Initial thoughts were that one development plan might be produced for the whole region and architect/planner, F.W.B. Charles, who had led the Frank Mears Study, was approached to prepare a development plan for the region.  However, after considerable deliberation, it was decided (by the County Clerks) that, in view of the progress being made in Selkirkshire and Roxburghshire (and the estimated costs of employing a consultant), it would be more sensible for each county to produce their own development plan.  It was agreed that a joint planning advisory committee should be established to ensure liaison between the counties.

In Berwickshire, with little progress on a survey of the area, the Department of Health for Scotland, in November 1948, again sought to persuade the council to appoint additional staff to undertake the preparation of the development plan and suggested that up to six staff were required.  The council baulked at this but eventually agreed to appoint two planning assistants, who duly took up their posts in July 1949 and set to work on a survey of Eyemouth and Duns burghs.  One of their first tasks was to bring the out-dated Ordnance Survey (OS) maps up-to-date, a major challenge for many planning departments at this time.  In Berwickshire, the latest edition of the 1:25,000 OS maps was produced in 1908!

In December 1949, after further pressure from the Department of Health for Scotland, the council decided to appoint a consultant to prepare the development plan and, after interviewing three candidates, the council appointed architect/planner F.W.B. Charles and he quickly set to work.  Unfortunately for the two planning assistants, appointed by the council in July 1949, they were not required by the planning consultant who had his own team and they were duly given notice to quit in February 1950, after only 9 months in the job.

T. D. Anderson continued to be responsible for dealing with the day-to-day activities of development control. Major Askew became the Chairman of the Planning and Property and Works Committee, as it had been called since March 1947, in May 1950. At this time, county council membership was dominated by the landed gentry, the clergy and other professional people.  For instance, in July 1950, the Planning and Property and Works Committee comprised:

        • Major Askew (Chairman)
        • Brigadier Swinton
        • Lieut. Col. Miller
        • Rev. R. Hamilton
        • Dr. Mitchell Innes
        • Earl of Ellesmere (became Duke of Sutherland)
        • Earl of Home
        • Captain McDougall
        • Rev. W.B. Paton

On the development control front, the emergence and expansion of holiday hut sites was a growing issue across the Scottish Borders in the late 1940s and 1950s, and Berwickshire was not immune.  In Lauderdale, for instance, which was accessible from the urban area of Midlothian to the north, the illegal siting of buses, caravans, huts etc. caused increasing concern to the council’s elected members.  A police report of September 1950 itemises twelve buses, trailers, railway carriages, caravans and huts in the Oxton area, such as:

  • Railway carriage without wheels, three rooms, fenced in and concrete paving laid round; Occupier: James Bryson, Dalkeith;
  • Tramcar; Occupier: Reynolds Arnott, Edinburgh;
  • Double-deck bus on wheels; Occupier: J. Allan, Tranent.

In October 1950, the council decided to split the Planning and Property & Works Department into two and T. D. Anderson was appointed County Planning Officer.  Progress continued on the preparation of the development plan with F.W.B. Charles producing town maps for the burghs and the other main settlements.  Each of these was the subject of consultation with the respective burgh councils.

In 1952, with the election of Major Askew as Chairman of the County Council, Brigadier Swinton took over chairmanship of the Planning and Property and Works Committee.  The continued illegal siting of railway carriages, caravans and shacks in various parts of the county prompted the county council to establish a Camping and Caravans Sub-Committee with the aim of taking enforcement action to remove the illegal encampments and encourage bone-fide mobile caravan sites in suitable locations.

By September 1953, a Draft Report of Survey, together with Town Maps for Duns, Eyemouth, Chirnside, Coldstream and Lauder, had been completed by F.W.B. Charles.  His involvement in the development plan ceased at this stage, co-incidentally he had moved from Edinburgh to the English Midlands, and John B. Hall of J & J Hall, Architects in Galashiels, who had prepared the Selkirkshire County Development Plan was approached to complete the development plan.  After a number of meetings and deliberations over the cost of appointing John B Hall, the architect withdrew his interest in taking over the development plan in September 1954 due to health issues.  Under continuing pressure from the Department of Health for Scotland, approaches were made to East Lothian Council to discuss the possibility of its County Planning Officer, Frank Tindall, who had completed the East Lothian County Development Plan, to undertake the Berwickshire County Development Plan.  Although the County Planning Officer was enthusiastic, the council would not release him.  With little progress over the ensuing two years, the council approached Midlothian County Council to enlist the services of its County Planning Officer, John Baillie.  Midlothian County Council agreed and John Baillie was appointed in January 1957 as planning consultant with responsibility for finalising and submitting the development plan to the Secretary of State.

By the mid-1950s, the number of planning applications received each year had risen to over 200 per annum.  The number of applications for illuminated signs at petrol filling stations, hotels and public houses increased as such businesses sought to cater for the growing number of car-borne travellers.  In the late-1950s, the first rumblings about visitor pressures at Coldingham Sands is evidence in committee minutes.

After three years of deliberation over such matters as the siting of new industry, a by-pass for Coldstream and the upgrading of the A697, the County Development Plan was agreed in draft form, for consultation with the burghs and other parties, in December 1959.  It was agreed to extend the agreement with Midlothian County Council over the services of John Ballie, its County Planning Officer, until December 1960.  In June 1960, the council received its 3000th planning application, an average of 200 per annum since 1945.  The Planning Department moved from the Council Buildings in Newtown Street, Duns to Southfield Lodge on Station Road.

The County Development Plan was finally submitted to the Secretary of State in December 1960.  The Plan was prepared on the assumption that the 1957 population of 23,753 would at least be retained, additional population in the burghs off-setting the decline in population in the landward area.  It was not envisaged that there would be any demand for housing in the landward area and no housing allocations were made outside the burghs of Eyemouth, Duns, Coldstream and Lauder, and Chirnside and Earlston.  It was the policy of the county council to encourage industrial development, although there appeared little prospect of attracting industry to Berwickshire, and sites for industry were identified in the burghs and Chirnside and Earlston.  Harbour improvements at Eyemouth were proposed.  A long list of road proposals for the trunk roads (A1 and A68) and the A697 were identified, with by-passes for all the main towns and villages on these roads, such as Ayton, Reston, Grantshouse and Cockburnspath on the A1, Lauder and Earlston on the A68 and Coldstream on the A698.  In the landward area, the Lammermuir Hills, the coastal strip and the Tweed Valley around Dryburgh, Bemersyde and Scott’s View were identified as Areas of Great Landscape Value.

In the next post we shall see how Berwickshire County Council reacted to the continuing decline in employment opportunities and population in the county and to the rapidly changing circumstances of the 1960s brought about by increasing mobility and changing patterns of leisure and recreation.

 

Renewable Energy: April 2018 Update

Renewable electricity generation in Scotland reached record levels in 2017, according to official data.  Statistics published by the UK government showed an increase in Scotland of 26% in 2017, compared with the previous year.  The majority of this increase was attributed to greater onshore wind capacity.  The data also showed that by the end of 2017, just over 10GW of installed renewables electricity capacity was operational in Scotland.  It is estimated that the equivalent of 68.1% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland came from renewable sources, up year-on-year by 14.1 percentage points.  In commenting on these figures, Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, confirmed that renewable energy will continue to play a hugely significant role in powering Scotland’s future.

As those people who are concerned at the proliferation of wind turbines in the Scottish Borders will know, Scottish Borders Council has been relying on its 2011 Supplementary Planning Guidance on Wind Energy, large parts of which are out-of-date in relation to Government policy, when determining applications for wind energy developments.  When the Scottish Borders Local Development Plan was adopted in May 2016, it included an intention to produce up-to-date Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy, including wind energy, within one year of the adoption of the local development plan.

The council published Draft Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy in December 2016 for consultation with interested parties and, after a prolonged period of deliberation, a final version of the Supplementary Guidance has now been approved by Scottish Borders Council for submission to Scottish Ministers.  It is vital that the Council has up-to-date Supplementary Guidance in place, which takes cognisance of all relevant national planning policy and guidance, when assessing and determining wind farm proposals.  It also strengthens the council’s position when defending its refusal of planning permission for wind turbines and wind farms at planning appeals.

National planning policy promotes renewable energy developments to facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy.  The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires all public bodies to mitigate the causes of climate change.  The Government’s National Planning Framework (NPF3) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) are supportive of renewable energy.  Policy ED9 in the Scottish Borders Local Development Plan states that the Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy will accord with Scottish Planning Policy; this requires an onshore spatial framework identifying areas where wind farms will not be acceptable, areas of significant protection, and areas with potential for wind farm development; a contentious issue amongst those communities which have concerns about the impact of wind farms on the landscape and rural communities.

In terms of wind energy, the Supplementary Guidance, therefore, sets out a spatial framework as required by SPP, and incorporates an update of the Ironside Farrar Landscape Capacity and Cumulative Impact Study of July 2013, which has been the subject of intense scrutiny at recent planning appeals.  Although wind energy is the main component of the SG, reference is also made to a range of other types of renewable energy development, including micro-renewables such as photovoltaic panels, field scale solar voltaics, biomass, energy from waste, anaerobic digestion, hydro and ground source heat pumps.  The SG provides useful background information and good planning practice guidance on each of these energy types.

The spatial framework for wind energy proposals, which applies to all turbines that exceed 15m in height to blade tip, has been generated through a comprehensive sieving exercise of constraints, including national and international landscape and conservation designations and the visual impact on communities.  Figure 6 in the SG shows the results of this exercise and to the consternation of many people, I am sure, a large part of the Scottish Borders lies within the area designated as having potential for wind farm development.

However, compliance with the spatial framework is only one consideration in determining whether a wind farm proposal is acceptable.  Policy ED9 of the adopted local development plan identifies a comprehensive list of other considerations.  These are set out in chapter 8 of the SG and include:

  • Landscape and visual impacts;
  • Effects on Wild Land;
  • Cumulative impacts;
  • Impacts on communities and individual dwellings in the countryside;
  • Impacts on carbon rich soils;
  • Impacts on public access, the historic environment, tourism and recreation;
  • Impacts on aviation and defence interests and seismological recording, telecommunications and broadcasting installations;
  • Impacts on adjacent trunk roads and roads traffic;
  • Effects on the natural heritage (including flood risk);
  • Opportunities for energy storage;
  • Net economic impact;
  • Contribution to renewable energy generation targets and effect on greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Decommissioning and site restoration.

Also, whilst the spatial framework identifies areas of protection and areas with potential for wind farms, it takes no cognisance of landscape capacity issues, which are material considerations for wind energy proposals.  Consequently, outputs from the Ironside Farrar Landscape Capacity Study must be referred to as well as the spatial framework.  If turbines are proposed which exceed the turbine heights identified within the Ironside Farrar Study 2016, the onus will be on the applicant to demonstrate how the impacts of the proposal on the key constraints and any unacceptable significant adverse effects can be mitigated.

It will be interesting to see what Scottish Ministers have to say about this new Supplementary Guidance for I am sure that the Council will want to see it approved and incorporated into the local development plan as soon as possible.  As well as providing advice to applicants/developers on the wide range of issues to be addressed within their submissions, the SG should also enable development management officers within the Planning Department to provide clearer guidance on wind farm related considerations, and process applications more effectively and efficiently.

 

Development Management: March 2018 Update

During March 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received 148 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The following applications are of particular interest:

  • The erection of an 80 metres high anemometer mast at Windy Edge, north of Braidlie Farmhouse in the Hermitage Water valley, south of Hawick (clearly, the precursor of a wind energy proposal!) (SBC Ref:18/00253/FUL);
  • The erection of nine dwellinghouses in the small village of Birgham in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/00305/FUL);
  • The erection of 19 flats on the site of the former Burns Mill Building in Roxburgh Street, Galashiels (a site that has lain derelict for many years) (SBC Ref: 18/00230/FUL);
  • The demolition of B listed St. Aidan’s Church and Church Hall on Gala Park, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/00309/LBC);
  • The Change of Use of Castle Venlaw Hotel in Peebles and alterations to form 11 residential apartments (SBC Ref: 18/00182/FUL);

As reported in the February update, in recent months, there have been a number of pre-application notices submitted to the Council in relation to major developments.  A proposal of application notice must contain an account of what consultations the applicant intends to undertake, when such consultation is to take place, with whom and what form it will take.  The prospective applicant must consult the community council, within whose area the proposal is located, and hold at least one public event where members of the public may make comments to the prospective applicant.  The recent Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) for the proposed hotel, retail, restaurant and petrol filling station at Tweedbank (SBC Ref: 18/00204/PAN) satisfied the minimum requirements of the Development Management Procedure Regulations in specifying the community councils to be consulted and the location, date and time of the proposed public event; Tweedbank Community Centre on Wednesday 14 March between 2pm and 8pm.

However, it would seem that some applicants are being somewhat reticent in providing all the information required when the PAN is submitted.  It is more often the case that PANs fail to specify when and where the required public event is to take place but leave it flexible; a public event is to be arranged; will be held next month, probably on such a date.  A notice of the proposed public event must be published in a local newspaper circulating in the locality in which the proposed development is situated at least 7 days before the holding of the public event.  Sometimes, this is the first intimation of the precise location, date and time of the proposed public event.

For instance, the PAN for a major development on the Auction Mart site at Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 18/00144/PAN) indicated that “Full details of the public consultation process…..will be made known….in due course.  The indicative date for the public consultation event stated in the PAN was 12 March 2018.  Subsequently, the date of the event was moved to 19 March and eventually to 26 March (with an advertisement in the Southern Reporter on 15 March).  It may well be that, in this instance, no-one was disadvantaged but perhaps the interests of the public might have been better served by providing full details of the proposed public event in the PAN, as required by the planning regulations.  The PAN for a major tourist development comprising 263 holiday lodges, 206 touring caravan pitches, 15 tree houses, 20 glamping pods and associated facilities at Rutherford House, near West Linton (SBC Ref: 18/00109/PAN) simply indicated that “We intend to send a PAN to West Linton Community Council in due course” and “a public consultation event will be held in mid-March at West Linton Primary School.”  The proposal has attracted some publicity in the press but, as yet, no such public consultation event has been organised or advertised.  The PAN for a major tourist development of 500 static caravans, 50 touring caravans and associated facilities on land at Thirlestane Castle, Lauder submitted on 5 December 2017 (SBC Ref: 17/01669/PAN) simply stated that the drop-in public exhibition is “anticipated to be held from 3pm to 8pm at a suitable venue in Lauder.  The date and venue are to be confirmedStakeholders will be notified of the event at least one week in advance, with an advert also placed in the Border Telegraph.”  To date, I am not aware of the publication of the date and venue for the proposed public event and a planning application for the proposal has yet to surface.

According to the Scottish Government’s Planning Circular 3/2013 on Development Management Procedures, the Scottish Government wants to encourage improved trust and open, positive working relationships from the earliest stages in the planning process and to provide, where possible, an early opportunity for community views to be reflected in proposals.  The objective of Pre-Application Consultation is for communities to be better informed about major developments and have the opportunity to contribute their views before a formal planning application is submitted.  This should help to improve the quality of planning applications, address misunderstandings and provide the opportunity for community issues to be aired and addressed.  Quite rightly, some communities are not happy with the way this procedure is operating in the Scottish Borders and the Planning Authority must find a way of ensuring that prospective developers abide by the spirit as well as the formal requirements of the statutory procedures.

During March 2018, the council decided 98 applications, only two of which were refused planning permission, under delegated powers to the Chief Planning Officer; for the extension of a dwellinghouse on Edinburgh Road, Peebles, and the erection of two chalets for holiday accommodation at Falahill Cottages, Heriot.  At its meeting on 12 March, the Council’s Local Review Body (LRB) upheld the officer’s decision (on 8 June 2017) to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse on land north-east of J Rutherford’s workshop in Earlston but varied the reasons for refusal in respect of flood risk.

On 26 March, the Council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee approved a number of applications, including; (i) a major £11.3m holiday complex at Glentress Forest outside Peebles, comprising 56 timber cabins, associated facilities and 10 miles of new mountain bike trails (see SBC Refs: 17/01625/FUL and 17/01633/FUL); (ii) the erection of up to 15 dwellinghouses at Bowbank Cottages, Eddleston in Peeblesshire, subject to access improvements (SBC Ref: 17/00767/PPP); (iii) the erection of 34 flats by Eildon Housing Association on a site in Huddersfield Street, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 17/00695/FUL); and (iv) the erection of affordable housing by Eildon Housing Association on a site at Craigpark Gardens, Galashiels (SBC Refs: 17/01709/FUL & 17/01757/MOD75).

As anticipated , the refusal of planning permission for the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of four dwellings at Elders Yard in Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 17/01342/PPP) is now the subject of an appeal to Scottish Ministers (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-270).  This brings the number of appeals to Scottish Ministers against the refusal of planning permission to eight (which must be an all-time record!).  The others that remain outstanding are: (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).

An appeal against an enforcement notice in respect of the painting of the exterior of 13 St. Ella’s Place, Eyemouth, a listed building within the Eyemouth Conservation area, was allowed on 29 March 2018 but only to the extent that the period for compliance was extended from one month to six months (ENA-140-2011).  The enforcement notice was upheld.  An appeal against an amenity notice in respect of the erection of scaffolding and metal panel fence on land at Kirkburn, near Peebles, submitted on 19 January 2018, remains to be decided (DPEA Ref: ANA-140-2000).

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).  In relation to the Fallago Rig applications, the inquiry and hearing sessions were held in August 2017.  In December 2017, the Scottish Government published the Scottish Energy Strategy and its Onshore Wind Policy Statement and the Reporter has offered the parties involved an opportunity to submit observations on the implications which may arise from these documents for the determination of the applications.  The exchange of representations and comments is continuing.  In relation to the Birneyknowe wind farm application (WIN-140-7), the inquiry and hearing sessions took place at Minto Golf Club during March (much interrupted by the inclement weather!).  A site inspection of the application area was successfully carried out on 29 March and the deadline for closing submissions was Monday 2 April with the applicant having the last word with a deadline of 9 April 2018.  We shall have to await and see whether this will be another knock for the council and the local community.

Whilst on the subject of wind farms, according to official data, renewable electricity generation in Scotland reached record levels in 2017.  Statistics published by the UK government showed an increase in Scotland of 26% in 2017, compared with the previous year.  The majority of this increase was attributed to greater onshore wind capacity.  The data also showed that by the end of 2017, just over 10GW of installed renewables electricity capacity was operational in Scotland.  It is estimated that the equivalent of 68.1% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland came from renewable sources, up year-on-year by 14.1 percentage points.  In commenting on these figures, Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, confirmed that renewable energy will continue to play a hugely significant role in powering Scotland’s future.

When the Scottish Borders Local Development Plan was adopted in May 2016, it included an intention to produce up-to-date Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy, including wind energy, within one year of the adoption of the local development plan.  The council published Draft Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy in December 2016 for consultation with interested parties and, after a prolonged period of deliberation, a final version of the Supplementary Guidance has now been approved by Scottish Borders Council for submission to Scottish Ministers.  You can find out more about this on my Renewable Energy Update April 2018.

Development Management: February 2018 update

During January 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received 115 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  During the same month, the council decided 96 applications, only seven of which were refused planning permission.  Six of these refusals related to the erection or extension of dwellinghouses.  An application for the demolition of existing industrial buildings at Elders Yard at Newtown St. Boswells and the erection of four dwellinghouses was refused by the Planning and Building Standards Committee on 8 January, on the casting vote of the Chairman (SBC Ref: 17/01342/PPP).  The decision to refuse planning permission, against the recommendation of the Chief Planning Officer, was on the grounds that the development would result in the loss of industrial land and premises and there is sufficient housing land allocation elsewhere in the village.  At its meeting on 5 February, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the erection of 75 affordable houses on land north-west of Springfield Avenue, Duns (SBC Ref: 17/00993/FUL), subject to a number of conditions and the conclusion of a legal agreement relating to the provision of a footpath link with either Bridgend or Currie Street.

On 19 February, the Council’s Local Review Body (LRB) considered three applications to review decisions of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for (1) the erection of a temple on land south-west of Kirkburn Parish Church, Cardrona in Peeblesshire; (2) the erection of a dwellinghouse on land at Peelburnfoot, in the Tweed Valley near Clovenfords; and (3) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Macbiehill, near West Linton in Peeblesshire.  The LRB upheld the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the temple at Kirkburn on the grounds of scale and prominence in the landscape and the fact that no overriding justification of need had been provided.  The LRB, however, reversed the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for a dwellinghouse at Macbiehill, West Linton and granted planning permission subject to a number of conditions and a Section 75 Agreement in respect of a contribution to Peebles High School.  The LRB decided to continue consideration of the proposed dwellinghouse at Peelburnfoot, Clovenfords to allow consultees to respond to the submission of new evidence on the impact of the proposal on protected trees within this woodland site.

In recent months, there have been a number of pre-application notices submitted to the Council in relation to major developments.  A proposal of application notice must contain an account of what consultations the applicant intends to undertake, when such consultation is to take place, with whom and what form it will take.  The prospective applicant must consult the community council, within whose area the proposal is located, and hold at least one public event where members of the public may make comments to the prospective applicant.  A notice of the proposed public event must be published in a local newspaper circulating in the locality in which the proposed development is situated at least 7 days before the holding of the public event.

On 23 January, the Chief Planning Officer issued a screening opinion in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations on the proposed development of 500 static caravans, 50 touring caravans and associated facilities including retail, caravan sales and café on land at Thirlestane (The Ranch), Lauder (SBC Ref: 17/01667/SCR) .  Having examined the proposal in relation to the EIA Regulations, it is the opinion of the Chief Planning Officer that the proposed development does not require an Environmental Impact Assessment in this instance.  However, the Chief Planning Officer considers that there is considerable potential for there to be environmental effects which may be unacceptable in their impacts upon the environment, local receptors, the site and/or the surrounding area.  Consequently, appropriate information and reports in support of the proposal will be required to be submitted with the planning application to enable these effects to be properly established and assessed.  In relation to the Proposal of Application Notice (SBC Ref: 17/01669/PAN), which sets out the pre-application process, a public exhibition on the proposals has yet to be arranged.  The PAN states that a public event will take place within Lauder between 3pm and 8pm on an unspecified date, and that the public event would be published in the Border Telegraph at least seven days before the event.  It is eagerly awaited by those that have an interest in this proposal.  Any subsequent planning application must be accompanied by a Pre-Application Consultation Report, which sets out the consultations undertaken and the responses received.  Watch this space!

On 5 February, the council received a request for a Screening Opinion to establish whether an Environmental Impact Assessment is required for a proposed holiday lodge and luxury camping development at the former golf course at Rutherford Castle, near West Linton (SBC Ref: 18/00118/SCR).  The development proposals comprise 263 holiday lodges, 206 touring caravan pitches, 15 tree houses and 20 glamping pods.  A new leisure/clubhouse facility would include a swimming pool, gym, Jacuzzi etc.  A Proposal of Application Notice was submitted at the same time (18/00109/PAN).  This indicates that a public event is likely to be held in Mid-March at West Linton Primary School, details to be advertised in the Peeblesshire News.  So, residents of West Linton, this will be your chance to peruse the proposals for Rutherford Castle and make your views known.

A Proposal of Application Notice for a large scale mixed use development, comprising retail, office, business/light industrial, hotel, residential and non-residential institution, housing and leisure use, together with a new access from the A68 and car parking, on the Auction Mart site at Newtown St. Boswells was received on 9 February (18/00144/PAN).  As part of the pre-application process, it is proposed to hold a public consultation event in the Canteen at the Auction Mart from 2pm -7pm on a date to be decided; the indicative date being 12 March 2018.  The notification of the public event will require to be published at least seven days before the event.

Following the submission of a Proposal of Application Notice on 2 October 2017 (SBC Ref: 17/01367/PAN), a planning application has now been submitted by Springfield Properties for the erection of 57 affordable dwellings on land west of Borlaroc on Main Street, Chirnside (18/00147/FUL).  The Pre-Application Consultation Report indicates that 31 people dropped-in to the public event on 13 November 2017 and a range of supportive comments were received.  Access and the effect on parking on Main Street were the mains issues raised and the developer has acknowledged that this situation may be exacerbated by the new development.  Off-street parking just inside the site boundary has been introduced to provide parking for existing Main Street residents.  A number of small changes have been made to the layout of the proposed housing although the number of houses proposed remains the same.

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).

Two other appeals have been made to the Scottish Ministers.  An appeal against an enforcement notice in respect of the painting of the exterior of 13 St. Ella’s Place, Eyemouth, a listed building within the Eyemouth Conservation area, was submitted on 9 January 2018 (ENA-140-2011).  An appeal against an amenity notice in respect of the erection of scaffolding and metal panel fence on land at Kirkburn, near Peebles was submitted on 19 January 2018 (DPEA Ref: ANA-140-2000).  Both appeals will be dealt with by way of written representations and a site visit by a Reporter from the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division.

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).  In relation to the Fallago Rig applications, the inquiry and hearing sessions were held in August 2017.  In December 2017, the Scottish Government published the Scottish Energy Strategy and its Onshore Wind Policy Statement and the Reporter has offered the parties involved an opportunity to submit observations on the implications which may arise from these documents for the determination of the applications.  I relation to the Birneyknowe application (WIN-140-7), inquiry and hearing sessions are scheduled for the week beginning 5 March 2018.  These will be held at Minto Golf Club, commencing at 10.00am on Monday 5 March [Delayed until Wednesday 7 March (provisional date) due to adverse weather conditions – heavy snowfall!!].

 

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.