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Selkirk County Planning in the 1960s and 1970s

The Quinquennial Review of the Selkirkshire County Development Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State in October 1964.  The policy of the review was “To bring to a halt, in the first instance, the continual and steady depopulation of the county and then by the introduction and provision of facilities to encourage new industries to develop within the burghs, and the existing industries to modernise and expand, in order to raise the population in a reasonable and realistic figure necessary to create a thriving industrial and commercial community within a balanced environment providing adequate housing and a full range of social, commercial and recreational facilities and at the same instance to protect the amenity and character of the area from despoilment”.

During the preparation of the Quinquennial Review, there was little fore-warning of the future downturn in the textiles industry in the Scottish Borders.  Indeed, there was a shortage of female labour, prompting efforts to attract male-employing industries to the area and build substantial rented (local authority) housing to attract and accommodate incoming workers.  The Galashiels Town Map proposed additional land for industry at Langhaugh and Netherdale, and additional housing in a number of locations, including Buckholm Corner, Blynlee, Mossilee/Hollybush, Wester and Easter Langlee, and Boleside.  The Selkirk Town Map allocated further industrial land alongside the A7 at Dunsdalehaugh, and land for housing at Fairfield, Sentry Knowe and the Haining (on the Green).  In relation to the A7 trunk road, the Quinquennial Review retained the proposal for a Selkirk By-pass and improvements both south and north of Selkirk, including a new road along the former Selkirk Branch railway line and new bridge over the Tweed.  In Galashiels, the route of the A7, from a proposed roundabout at Sunningdale, followed a line along Abbotsford Road, Albert Place and Bank Street, through property to the rear of High Street and Island Street to Wilderhaugh and a roundabout on Wood Street, above Leabrae, and then across a viaduct over the railway and the Gala Water to Buckholm Corner.  The Quinquennial Review was approved by the Secretary of State in January 1968.

During the early 1960s, the traditional industries continued to flourish.  In 1961, Yarrow Spinners extended their operation with the erection of a spinning mill in Selkirk.  Gardiners also expanded with the erection of a new tweed mill in Selkirk.  In 1966, Gardiners undertook further extensions, as did Laidlaw & Fairgrieve in Galashiels.  However, by the late 1960s, the textile sector began to shed labour and to aid the attraction of industry to the region, the Peebles, Roxburgh and Selkirk Joint Planning Advisory Committee was set up in December 1969 to promote the Central Borders.  A Development Office was established and a Development Officer, Alistair Bilton, was appointed.  Nursery factory units were built in Galashiels and Selkirk.  About this time, two entrepreneurs, Robert Currie, a process engraver in the printing industry, and Kenneth Mill, an electronics engineer, started up the first electronics company, Currie & Mill, manufacturing PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) in a modest building on the High Street in Galashiels.  After two years together, they split up, Kenneth Mill to found BEPI Electronics, which became established at Galabank Mill on Wilderhaugh.  Currie & Mill would become Exacta Circuits and establish a factory at Dunsdalehaugh in Selkirk.  It was from these two companies that many of the Borders electronic companies of the 1970s were descended; such as MEPD Met-Etch in Selkirk and Keltek in Kelso.  A broad range of other industries was also established at this time: Sprague (Electric) and Valerie Louthan (knitwear) at Netherdale, Galashiels; R.P. Adam (Arpal) initially at Netherdale, Galashiels and then Selkirk; Pye Electronics at Wilderhaugh, Galashiels.  In 1970, textile designer, Bernat Klein built his, award winning, design studio at High Sunderland, near Selkirk.

Whilst the Quinquennial Review of the Development Plan was being prepared, amendments were made to the existing development plan to allow a range of developments to proceed.  The first amendment, in 1963, related to the development of a 7 acre site at Fairfield in Selkirk for local authority housing.  Other amendments followed in the 1960s, including the allocation of playing fields at Netherdale, Galashiels for industry; the new bus station on Stirling Street in Galashiels; the redevelopment of Galashiels Market Square; new housing at Clovenfords; Wester and Easter Langlee, Galashiels; Sentry Knowe, Selkirk and within Gala Policies.  Housing redevelopment was concentrated in the Greenbank Street/Croft Street, Gala Park and Halliburton Place/Magdala Terrace areas of Galashiels.  A number of petrol filling stations were constructed in Galashiels.  TV masts were erected at Dryden, Ashkirk and Lindean, near Selkirk, to serve BBC and ITV respectively in the 1960s.  In 1970, planning permission was granted for Galashiels’ first supermarket, Coopers Finefare in Channel Street.  New swimming pools were built in Galashiels and Selkirk.

Other developments of note during this time include: the contentious cladding of the Capitol Cinema in Galashiels in 1971 [originally, the Playhouse when built in 1922, and the Capitol from 1959, the cinema was revamped with a bingo hall, discotheque, bar and restaurant and re-named the Kingsway in 1971; in 1995 it was sub-divided into four cinemas and renamed the Pavilion]; and the conversion of Philipburn House, Selkirk into an award winning hotel.  One of the last developments to be proposed prior to local government re-organisation in 1975 was the redevelopment of Galashiels Station Yard for industry and parking combined with a landscaped footpath corridor along the length of the railway line between Torwoodlee at the north-western boundary of the town and Tweedbank.  This proposal would be approved and implemented by the new Borders Regional council.

In response to the Central Borders Plan of 1968, the Galashiels Technical Working Party was established in 1970 with representatives from Selkirkshire County Council and Galashiels Town Council, the Scottish Development Department and Roxburgh and Berwickshire County Planning Departments to examine the growth potential of Galashiels.  Essentially, this working party was tasked with identifying the threshold capacity of the town rather than accommodate the population increase projected by the Central Borders Plan.  To some, it seemed that this was an opportunity to put forward an argument for development within Galashiels rather than at Tweedbank.  But the die had already been cast [the Secretary of State approved the Darnick (Tweedbank) Amendment to the Roxburgh County Development Plan in January 1968].

The Galashiels Technical Working Party examined the feasibility of alternative routes for the A7 through the town [neither the county council nor the town council were over-enthusiastic, about the route that had been imposed by the Scottish Development Department].  One serious alternative was to route the A7 along the now disused railway line from the northern boundary of the burgh to a point east of the town centre, joining Abbotsford Road near its junction with Tweed Road.  Alternatively, the route could continue along the railway line to Netherdale and, utilising the Selkirk Branch line, link with the A7 at Netherbarns.  It would also be possible to link this road with the Melrose Road via Winston Road or continue over the Tweed, utilising the railway bridge, through Tweedbank to Darnick [as an alternative to the route proposed in the Roxburgh County Council Darnick (Tweedbank) amendment to the development plan].  After lengthy consideration, the working party [reluctantly] came to the conclusion that there was no case for altering the already agreed route for the A7, which connected with the proposed Galafoot Bridge and route to Darnick.  However, the working party did consider that a new link road should be constructed along the railway line between Winston Road and Station Brae to relieve local traffic on the Melrose Road, a road which could be continued along Ladhope Vale to High Buckholmside (the A7).

The technical working party examined a number of housing sites stretching from Buckholm Corner in the north-west to the Langshaw Road in the south-east, including major sites at Mossilee and Hollybush, Gala Policies and Netherbarns.  Agreement was reached that future housing in Galashiels, in the period up to 1983 (the ten year period after publication of the report) should be concentrated in the Mossilee/Hollybush area with initial development at Kilnknowe on Wood Street.  Gala Policies provided the opportunity for some housing, the area around Gala House being suitable for a recreational park.  As regards industrial land, it was acknowledged that there was considerable scope to generate jobs within existing industrial areas, principally at Netherdale in Galashiels and at Dunsdalehaugh in Selkirk.  The site at Tweedbank would cater for considerable population increase.  Sites at Hollybush and Easter Langlee were identified as possible sites for industry in the longer term.

The Working Party report, published in January 1973 was, to some extent, overtaken by the re-organisation of local government in 1975 but it, nevertheless, formed an important input to the new development plan system of structure and local plans subsequently prepared by the Borders Regional Council.

Development Planning: the challenge of the 1960s

In the 1960s, development plans prepared under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1947 were the subject of increasing criticism.  Because of the detail they contained, they tended to be inflexible and, although planning authorities were under an obligation to review them at five-yearly intervals, this rarely happened.  In the Scottish Borders, the Quinquennial Review of the Selkirk County Development Plan, approved in April 1955, was not submitted to the Secretary of State until May 1964 (and approved in January 1968).  Elsewhere, none of the county development plans for Berwickshire, Peeblesshire and Roxburghshire, approved in 1965, 1955 and 1965 respectively, were reviewed prior to local government re-organisation in 1975.  Development plans were largely updated by formal amendments, which also required the approval of the Secretary of State.  The obligation to afford objectors the opportunity of a hearing or public inquiry meant that a considerable period of time could elapse before such amendments were approved, as was the case with the Tweedbank amendment to the Roxburgh County Development Plan.  As well as being out-of-date, development plans were also criticised as being merely land use maps with little attention being paid to potential investment and how proposals would be implemented.  They also ignored the broader environmental, social and economic needs of the community.

Consequently, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in England and the Scottish Development Department in Scotland jointly set up the Planning Advisory Group (PAG) in May 1964 to examine ways of improving the development plan system.  The PAG Report of 1965 proposed a basic change in the structure of development planning which would distinguish between the policy and strategic decisions required to guide development in an area and the more specific land use allocations and actions required to implement proposals at the local level.  County Plans, which would require ministerial approval, would be primarily statements of policy with a key diagram (not a map) and would concentrate on the broad pattern of future development but would not detail specific land use allocations as did the existing town maps.  Local plans, which would not require ministerial approval but must conform with the policies set out in the county plan, would be prepared for settlements within the county and set out land allocations and detailed policies to guide the control of development.  They would also identify action areas where specific action was required.

The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1969 set out the provisions for a completely new system of development planning, based on the PAG recommendations, which required the preparation of structure plans and local plans.  Structure plans would set out the broad policy framework for an area.  With the freedom from including detail policies and proposals, it was hoped that strategic issues could be settled more quickly than in the past.  Local plans would comprise detailed planning policies and proposals and must conform to the structure plan approved by the Secretary of State.

In England, Wales and Scotland, there was also general agreement in the 1960s that the system of local government was in need of reform.  In Scotland, there were more than 400 local authorities; 33 county councils, 4 city corporations, 197 town councils and 196 district councils.  In May 1966, the Labour Government appointed a royal commission under the chairmanship of Lord Wheatley to review local administration in Scotland.  A similar commission on local government administration in England was set up in June 1966 under the chairmanship of Lord Redcliffe-Maud.  The Wheatley Commission reported in September 1969 and recommended a new system of regional and district councils.  The report divided Scotland into seven regions, sub-divided into 37 districts.  However, following publication of the report and consultations with local authorities, changes were made; the South East Region was sub-divided and both Fife and the Scottish Borders were separated from Edinburgh and the Lothians.  Changes were made to the number of districts in the Strathclyde Region and regional and district boundaries amended.  The new authorities, 9 regions, 53 districts and 3 island authorities were introduced in 1975 by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, which also established non-statutory community councils.  Regional councils would be responsible for strategic planning, social services, education, roads and transportation; district councils for housing, local planning and building control, refuse disposal and licensing.  In relation to town and country planning, Highland, Dumfries and Galloway, and the Borders Regional Councils, together with the three Island Councils; Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, were designated general planning authorities and given full planning powers.  In the other six regional councils, the town and country planning function was split between the region and constituent district councils.

It was hoped that the new system would avoid the delays of the past, reduce uncertainty and blight.  It was also hoped that they would be more responsive to public opinion.  Unfortunately, the proposed re-organisation of local government delayed the preparation of the ‘new style’ development plans.  The provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1969, were not finally brought into force until 1975 with the enactment of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 and the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, which required the production of structure plans for each of the nine regions and local plans for the constituent districts.

Meanwhile, in the Scottish Borders, following the publication of the Central Borders Plan in 1968 and encouraged by the Scottish Development Department, effort was concentrated on the establishment of joint working parties for individual burghs to examine the growth potential of the main towns in the central borders.  The Galashiels Technical Working Party was established in 1970 with representatives from Selkirkshire County Council, Galashiels Town Council and the Scottish Development Department.  In Roxburghshire, similar joint technical working parties were set up for Hawick, Jedburgh and Kelso.   Berwickshire and Roxburghshire County Councils produced reports covering the landward parts of their areas setting out policies and proposals for the rural settlements.  Peeblesshire County Council concentrated on the tourism and recreational aspects of its area. Selkirkshire County Council examined the problems of small settlements within the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys.  Subsequent posts will look at each of these reports.

 

Development Management: New Year 2019

During the calendar year 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received and determined almost 1600 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents (146) and applications for works to trees (76).  Of these applications, only some 58 were refused consent (3.6%), which is a much lower percentage than previous years.  Half of the 56 planning applications refused by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers were submitted for review to the Local Review Body (LRB).  During 2018, the LRB considered some 29 refusals of planning permission and decided to reverse the decision of the Chief Planning Officer, and grant planning permission, in 16 cases.  Of the 35 planning applications considered by the Planning and Building Standards Committee, only two were refused:  an application for the erection of 4 dwellinghouses at Elders Yard, Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 17/01342/PPP); and a wind farm at Barrel Law, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 17/01255/FUL).  Both refusals were the subject of appeals to Scottish Ministers; the former appeal was allowed and planning permission granted for the erection of the dwellinghouses, the latter appeal remains to be determined.

During 2018, a total of 12 appeals were submitted to the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA); four planning appeals, three enforcement notice appeals, two amenity notice appeals, one conservation area consent appeal, one tree works appeal and one appeal against the refusal to issue a certificate of lawful use.  Of the four planning appeals, two were upheld and planning permission granted (DPEA Refs: PPA-140-2070 & PPA-140-271), and two remain to be determined (PPA-140-2072 & PPA-140-2074). Two of the three enforcement notice appeals were dismissed (ENA-140-2011 & ENA-140-2012), one remains to be determined (ENA-140-2013).  One amenity notice appeal was dismissed (ANA-140-2000) and the other remains to be determined (ANA-140-2001).  The appeal against the refusal to issue of a certificate of lawful use was dismissed (CLUD-140-2002); the conservation area consent and tree works appeals remain to be determined (CAC-140-2000 & TWCA-140-2).

Planning applications must be determined in accordance with the development plan unless other material considerations suggest otherwise.  In the Scottish Borders, the development plan comprises the approved Strategic Development Plan for South-East Scotland 2013 (SESPlan) and the adopted Scottish Borders Local Development Plan 2016.  The Proposed Strategic Development Plan for South-East Scotland, SESPlan2, was submitted to Scottish Ministers in June 2017.  The Examination of SESPlan2 was completed by Reporters appointed by Scottish Ministers in May 2018 and their report was submitted to Scottish Ministers on 20 July 2018.  The response of the Scottish Ministers is awaited.  The Main Issues Report (MIR) relating to the replacement Scottish Borders Local Development Plan (LDP2) was published in November 2018 and was the subject of wide consultation, including a programme of afternoon drop-in sessions and evening workshops held across the Scottish Borders during November and December 2018.  The public consultation period ended on 31 January 2019 and the council anticipates that the local development plan LDP2 will be submitted to the council for approval in the autumn of 2019, following which the local development plan will be the subject of consultation and examination during 2020.  It is likely to be the Spring of 2021 before LDP2 is adopted and replaces the existing local development plan.

 

Development Management: January 2019 Update

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

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

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

Check out the council’s Public Access Portal if you want to find out more about the above applications or any other application submitted in the past month.

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

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

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

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

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

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

As previously indicated, appeals have been submitted in relation to the non-determination of the planning applications for the redevelopment of the March Street Mills site in Peebles for residential units (SBC Ref: 17/00063/PPP & 17/00064/CON).  The Reporter appointed to determine these appeals will carry out an accompanied inspection of the site and surrounding area on Tuesday 5 February 2019 at 2.00pm.

Appeals remain outstanding in relation to the serving of an Amenity Notice for the removal of two shed structures, a van and various items from land west of Gallowberry Bank, Blyth Bridge, near West Linton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV; DPEA Ref: ANAA-140-2001); and the serving of an Enforcement Notice alleging the use of the property ‘Greenloaning’ on The Loan, West Linton for short stay visitor accommodation (SBC Ref: 18/00074/UNUSE; DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2013).  Two appeals against the refusal of planning permission remain to be determined: (1) for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068); (2) for the construction of a wind farm comprising 7 turbines up to 132 metres high to tip height on land at Barrel Law, north west of Roberton (SBC Ref: 17/01255/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072).  The appeal against the refusal of Tree Works Consent for the removal of a mature copper beech tree at 22 Craigmyle Park, Clovenfords, near Galashiels also remains to be determined (SBC Ref: 18/01057/TPO) (DPEA Ref: TWCA-140-2).

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remained outstanding: (1) the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills; and (2) the application to extend the operational life of the existing Fallago Rig wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) (DPEA case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6).

 

Tweedbank Development Update: January 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Development Management: Christmas 2018 update

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the council’s Public Access Portal if you want to find out more about the above applications or any other application submitted in the past month.

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

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

As indicated in the November update, appeals have been submitted in relation to the non-determination of the planning applications for the redevelopment of the March Street Mills site in Peebles for residential units (SBC Ref: 17/00063/PPP & 17/00064/CON).  At the meeting on 10 December, the Planning and Building Standards Committee responded to the appeals to the effect that, had they not been lodged, the Committee would have refused the planning application on the grounds of retaining the allotments [which it is proposed to relocate to another part of the site] in their current position, and refused the application for conservation area consent on the grounds that there was no appropriate redevelopment proposals in place for the buildings to be demolished.

An appeal has been submitted against the serving of an Amenity Notice for the removal of two shed structures, a van and various items from land west of Gallowberry Bank, Blyth Bridge, near West Linton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV; DPEA Ref: ANAA-140-2001).  An appeal has also been submitted against the serving of an enforcement notice alleging the use of the property ‘Greenloaning’ on The Loan, West Linton for short stay visitor accommodation (SBC Ref: 18/00074/UNUSE; DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2013).

Two appeals against the refusal of planning permission remain to be determined: (1) for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068); (2) for the construction of a wind farm comprising 7 turbines up to 132 metres high to tip height on land at Barrel Law, north west of Roberton (SBC Ref: 17/01255/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072).  The appeal against the refusal of Tree Works Consent for the removal of a mature copper beech tree at 22 Craigmyle Park, Clovenfords, near Galashiels also remains to be determined (SBC Ref: 18/01057/TPO) (DPEA Ref: TWCA-140-2).

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

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

Until just before Christmas, three wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remained outstanding: (1) the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills; (2) the application to extend the operational life of the existing Fallago Rig wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) (DPEA case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6); and (3) an application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick (DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).

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

 

The Central Borders: A Plan for Expansion 1968

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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