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.

Development Management: September update

During September 2017, the council received 122 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents.

At last an application has been submitted for the conversion of the old Post Office and the adjoining former “Poundstretcher” buildings in Channel Street, Galashiels to a Gallery to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland.  The existing “Poundstretcher” building would be demolished to enable the building of a gallery linked to the Category B Listed Post Office building where a reception, café and shop would be located (SBC Ref: 17/01300/FUL & 17/01301/FUL).  It will be interesting to see what the people of Galashiels think about the modernist approach to the design of the gallery.

Plans have also been received for the demolition of Langhaugh Mill, Currie Road, Galashiels and the erection of 39 flats for Eildon Housing Association (SBC Ref: 17/01284/FUL).

The re-application for the council’s own waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, Galashiels (SBC Ref. 17/01149/FUL), previously refused planning permission in April 2017 is causing quite a stir if press reports are to be believed.

Another proposal that is likely to cause some controversy is a re-application for a wind farm, this time comprising seven wind turbines, at Barrel Law, south west of Selkirk (SBC Ref: 17/01255/FUL).  An application for eight turbines on the site was refused planning permission in 2013 and an appeal to the Scottish Ministers (Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals) was dismissed in 2014.  According to the applicant, the proposed scheme for seven turbines addresses the reasons for refusal of the previous scheme.  We shall have to wait and see if the Scottish Borders Council agrees!

Requests for a scoping opinion under the Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 2017 have been received by the council in relation to applications for Section 36 Consent under the Electricity Act 1989 for the erection of a further 11 turbines at Crystal Rig Wind Farm (Crystal Rig Phase IV) in the Lammermuir Hills (SBC Ref: 17/01350/SCO) and for the erection of 46 turbines on land at Cliffhope, near Saughtree Station, Newcastleton (SBC Ref: 17/01333/SCO).  The purpose of these requests is to seek the planning authority’s opinion as to the information that should be included within the Environmental Statements, which will accompany the subsequent applications for consent.  Watch this space!

An interesting planning application on the east coast is a proposal for the erection of twelve wigwams on land at Cove Village near Cockburnspath (SBC Ref: 17/01241/FUL).  The site is located within the Berwickshire Coast Special Landscape Area where landscape and visual impact as well as the positive tourism and economic impact will be important considerations.

After a long-running saga, dating back to May 2015, an application for a holiday complex, comprising 50 holiday lodges, restaurant and manager’s house, conversion of farm steading into 8 dwellinghouses and the erection of 6 dwellinghouses on land at Craik Farm Steading, Craik near Roberton, south-west of Hawick, was withdrawn on 11 August 2017.  However, this may not be the end of the story! (SBC Ref: 16/00475/FUL)

The submission of a pre-application request for a screening opinion under Regulation 8 of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 2017 for the erection of new car showroom, including workshop, offices, petrol filling station, shop and café on the west side of the A68 north of the existing Toyota Garage at St. Boswells was submitted to the council on 1 August 2017 (SBC Ref: 17/01078/SCR).  On 24 August, the council issued its formal Screening Opinion that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not required in this instance.  Nevertheless, the council pointed out that there was considerable potential for environmental effects that may be unacceptable on the environment, local receptors, the site and/or the surrounding area and these effects would need to be properly established and assessed.  An exhibition on the proposed development was held at St. Boswells Village Hall on Tuesday 12 September (advertised in the Southern Reporter on 31 August 2017), where members of the project team answered questions regarding the proposals.  A planning application is expected in due course.

A Proposal of Application Notice for a proposed residential development of 58 affordable dwellings on land south of Langtongate, Duns (east of the new High School) was submitted on 29 September 2017.  It is proposed to hold a one day public exhibition of the proposals in the Swan Hotel, Duns on 4 November between 1pm and 7pm.  If you want to register your interest and be kept informed of the proposal, you should put the date in your diary.

During September 2017, the council decided some 111 applications, only a handful of which were refused.  On the 4 September, the Planning and Building Standards Committee refused planning permission, contrary to the recommendation of the Chief Planning Officer, for the change of use of two retail units on Douglas Bridge, Galashiels to offices for the relocation of the Job Centre from New Reiver House behind the High Street on the grounds that the proposal would result in the loss of prime retail floor space in a prominent location within Galashiels town centre (SBC Ref: 17/00765/FUL).  The applicant has wasted no time in submitting an appeal to the Scottish Ministers.  In the appeal, submitted on 20 September, the applicant submits that the proposed development is in accordance with the relevant local development plan policies and that other considerations, such as the fact that the proposal would bring vacant units back into active use, support the granting of planning permission.  It will be for a Reporter from the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals to decide.

The Local Review Body met on 18 September to consider three requests for a review of the decision made by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers to refuse planning permission for (1) the erection of dwellinghouse at Old Church, Lamberton in Berwickshire; (2) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Craigerne, Edderston Road, Peebles; and (3) the erection of a micro-meat processing unit on land at Hardiesmill Place, Gordon in Berwickshire.  In each case, the Local Review Body upheld the officer’s decision to refuse the planning application.

In addition to the recently submitted appeal in respect of the relocation of the Job Centre in Galashiels to retail units at Douglas Bridge, Galashiels, two 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; and (2) against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a proposed windfarm of eight turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, also in Berwickshire.  Details of the appeals can be found on the DPEA website (case references PPA-140-2059 & 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, 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, probably involving an inquiry later this year; the arrangements for a pre-examination meeting have yet to be finalised but have provisionally been set for 25 October 2017 (see DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).

Planning in the Scottish Borders: County Planning becomes established

This second post on the history of planning in the Scottish Borders looks at the progress made by the four Scottish Border County Councils in establishing a planning system for the area.  The Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) (Scotland) Act 1943 extended the control of development beyond those areas which were the subject of a planning scheme to cover the whole of a local authority’s area.  As a consequence, Planning Committees were set up by Selkirk, Roxburgh and Berwickshire County Councils in 1944 [the first meeting of Selkirk County Council’s Planning Committee was held on Thursday 28 October 1943 but it was at the second meeting on 18 January 1944 that it appointed its first Chairman, Major Scott Plummer, and conducted its first business].  It would be 1948 before Peeblesshire County Council established its Planning Committee.

The first task for the new committees was to initiate surveys of their area (of the use of land, the use and condition of buildings, the provision of services such as water and drainage, gas and electricity, school provision and bus routes) and establish systems for dealing with planning applications submitted under the Interim Development powers conferred by the 1943 Act.  In the first instance, Planning Committees were advised by the County Clerk, assisted by the County Surveyor or County Architect, but private architect firms would soon be employed to carry out the initial surveys of their areas and provide advice on planning applications.  Selkirk County Council employed John C Hall, Architect of Galashiels, to undertake the initial survey of the county.  John C Hall, and subsequently his son John B. Hall, trading as J & J Hall, Architects of Galashiels, would become County Planning Officer for Selkirk County Council.  Roxburgh and Berwickshire County Councils would follow the same practice of employing local architects.  There were only eighteen qualified town planners working in Scotland in 1950, most of whom were in the Department of Health for Scotland.  Frank Tindall, appointed County Planning Officer of neighbouring East Lothian County Council in 1950, would be one of the first County Planning Officers in Scotland, but it would be the 1960s before Roxburgh and Berwickshire County Councils appointed County Planning Officers and Peeblesshire County Council would be advised by the County Planning Officer of Midlothian County Council.

As explained in the first post on the history of planning in the Scottish Borders, the recommendations contained in the Barlow, Scott and Uthwatt reports produced during the Second World War indicated that a complete overhaul of the planning system was required to allow reconstruction after the war.  The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1947 heralded a new era of planned society and introduced a universal requirement to obtain planning consent for any development.  The Act gave wide ranging planning powers to the four county councils in the Scottish Borders: as well as the power to approve or refuse development proposals, they must prepare development plans; they could also carry out redevelopment themselves and they could use compulsory purchase powers to buy land and make it available for development by developers.  They were also given powers to control outdoor advertisements, preserve woodland and buildings of architectural or historic interest.

County development plans for the four counties in the Scottish Borders were approved by the Secretary of State for Scotland between 1955 and 1965.  The Selkirkshire County Development Plan, one of the first in Scotland, was approved in April 1955 (having been submitted to the Scottish Office in March 1953); the Peeblesshire County Development Plan quickly followed (submitted in June 1953 and approved in December 1955).  County development plans for Berwickshire and Roxburghshire would not be approved until February 1965 (the Berwickshire County Development Plan was submitted in December 1960, the Roxburghshire County Development Plan in December 1961).  These Plans would be updated by review and amendment during the 1960s; a Quinquennial Review of the Selkirkshire County Development Plan would be approved in January 1968 (submitted in May 1964) and a number of amendments would be made to the Roxburghshire County Development Plan, principally in relation to development in the burghs of Hawick, Jedburgh and Kelso.

These county development plans were prepared against the background of a declining population, particularly in the rural areas, and a shortage of labour in the predominant industries of the main towns, the Tweed and Hosiery industries.  The four development plans sought to stabilise the population overall and increase the population of the main towns through the allocation of land for housing.  In their original form, the development plans allocated land that would allow for a combined population of 106,000, compared with a 1951 population of 107,575.

The next posts will look in more detail at how the four county councils saw their areas developing during this crucial period of change.