Development Management: March 2020 Update

The first case of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Scotland was confirmed on 1 March within Tayside NHS Area.  Coronavirus arrived in the Scottish Borders a few days later and lock-down commenced on 24 March.  Not surprisingly, planning activity has been somewhat limited thereafter with construction work in abeyance and architects, planning consultants and tradesmen at home protecting their families.

The council’s Planning Department is now closed to the public until further notice and case officers are working remotely from home.  The council is requesting that all applications are made online.  Nevertheless, new planning applications continue to be registered and are being processed in as normal a way as possible; applications continue to be publicised on the council’s website and in the local press.  However, site visits are not being undertaken.  Decisions on applications may, therefore, inevitably take longer.  Due to the social distancing requirements, meetings are not possible and the only way to obtain advice and guidance on a proposal or an application is through electronic communication.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee met on 2 March and the Local Review Body on 16 March but all future meetings have been cancelled until further notice.  Major applications and those that attract five or more objections are required to be decided by the Planning and Building Standards Committee under the council’s scheme of delegation, so it is likely that decisions on such applications will be delayed until the emergency is over or the council comes up with an alternative mechanism.  Appeals against decisions of the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers, considered by the Local Review Body, will be similarly delayed.

During March 2020, Scottish Borders Council received some 90 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  In Galashiels, an application for a Certificate of Lawful Use for the former tennis courts on Abbotsford Road [last used in 1996] for the development of 8 houses has been submitted by J. S. Crawford asserting that development authorised by a planning permission granted in February 1996 has commenced on this site (SBC Ref: 20/00345/CLPU).  In Melrose, an application has been received for the demolition of the former Congregational Church, previously used as council offices, at West Grove on Waverley Road and the erection of 14 apartments (SBC Ref: 20/00331/FUL).  In Peebles, an application for the erection of seven dwellinghouses on land at The Lodge, Kingsmeadows House, Kingsmeadows Road has generated a great deal of opposition, which has prompted the council’s Chief Planning Officer to request that the application be withdrawn in the light of the fundamental concerns raised in the objections (SBC Ref: 20/00275/FUL).  The only non-residential development of particular note relates to an application for a fifth poultry shed for egg production at Hutton Hall Barns, Berwickshire, to house up to 32,000 birds, which indicates that some sectors of the economy continue to expand (SBC Ref: 20/00347/FUL).

During March, 94 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Again, the vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Three applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in March: (i) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Tarf House, Cardrona, Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 20/00051/PPP); (ii) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at West Mains, Carlops, Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 19/01701/PPP); and (iii) an application for the erection of two dwellinghouses at Quarry Bank, Hume, Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 19/01432/PPP).

At its meeting on 3 March, the Planning and Building Standards Committee approved two applications: (i) for residential development on Ettrickhaugh Road, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 19/01687/PPP); and (ii) for the conversion of part of the former Peter Scott factory on Buccleuch Street Hawick to form 10 flats (SBC Ref: 19/01813/FUL & 19/01812/LBC).  The approval of the proposed development of six houses on a 1.8 acre site on Ettrickhaugh Road, Selkirk is subject to the approval of Scottish Ministers because of an objection from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in relation to the potential for flooding.  Officers employed by the council are happy that the site is suitably protected by the recently completed flood protection scheme and it will be interesting to see how Scottish Ministers deal with this appeal.

The Local Review Body (LRB) on 16 March considered two appeals against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for (i) the erection of two dwellinghouses in garden ground at 7 Heriot House, Heriot (SBC Ref: 18/01777/FUL); and (ii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Town O’Rule, Bonchester bridge (SBC Ref: 18/01194/FUL).  In both cases, the LRB decided to continue the appeals for further consideration.  When these cases will be reconsidered is now a matter for conjecture, bearing in mind the cancellation of future meetings of the LRB for an indefinite period.

No appeals to Scottish Ministers remain outstanding.  Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain to be determined: (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).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July 2018.  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, a hearing was held on 10 March 2020 in Duns in relation to an application for an expansion of the Crystal Rig Wind Farm in the Lammermuirs, comprising the addition of 11 turbines to the existing 90 turbines (DPEA Ref: WIN-140-8).  In light of the current COVID-19 restrictions, the Reporters have been unable to conduct the inspection of the site and viewpoints and they will be unable to conclude their report until these site inspections have been carried out.  In the meantime, parties have been requested to submit their final observations and closing submissions.

Development Management: February 2020 Update

During February 2020, Scottish Borders Council received some 110 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  An application for the erection of 16 dwellinghouses on a site at Stagehall, Stow is causing some concern (SBC Ref: 20/00169/FUL).  The site is allocated for 12 dwellinghouses in the adopted local development plan and some residents of the adjoining Wedale View development, through which access would be taken, have voiced concerns about the adequacy of the access and traffic calming measures required.

One application that stands out is the application by Network Rail for a screening opinion under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 as to whether an Environmental Impact Assessment is required for the proposed development of rail station platforms, waiting shelters, car parking and footbridge etc. on the East Coast Mainline at Reston in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 20/00215/SCR).  This proposal forms part of the overall proposals for the economic regeneration of south east Scotland by the South East of Scotland Transport Partnership and will no doubt be much welcomed by residents of Berwickshire, who may feel that the Waverley Line to Tweedbank is of little value to them.  A train station at Reston is seen by Scottish Borders Council as an important catalyst for the growth of Berwickshire.

In Peeblesshire, an application has been submitted requesting a Scoping Opinion from the planning authority under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 on a proposal to extract 1.5m tonnes of sand and gravel over a fifteen year period from a site at Slipperfield, West Linton (SBC Ref: 20/00176/SCO).  The application indicates the proposed scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment and the key issues to be addressed; the potential effects on the landscape and people in terms of visual impact, noise and dust, hydrology, flora and fauna, transportation and cultural heritage.  Aa a major proposal, it is intended that a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) will be submitted in due course.  Let us hope that this PAN, as well as meeting the minimum requirements for pre-application consultation, also meets the Government’s aim of meaningful engagement with the local community.

In the central borders, in the rugby town of Melrose, a contentious proposal by St. Mary’s School, comprises the replacement of the grass sports field at Annay Road with a synthetic sports surface covered by an air dome structure with changing facilities (SBC Ref: 20/00165/FUL).  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 February, 100 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Again, the vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  The erection of 10 affordable dwellinghouses by Eildon Housing Association in Westruther, Berwickshire was approved notwithstanding some concerns expressed locally about the inadequacy of the road serving the site (SBC Ref: 19/01491/FUL).  The site was considered for housing in the review of the local development plan and was included in the Main Issues Report (MIR).  The site is currently being considered for inclusion within the proposed local development plan (LDP2).  In Ayton, planning permission in principle was granted for the erection of 9 dwellinghouses on the site of the former garage showroom, filling station and adjoining land on the High Street (SBC Ref: 18/01501/PPP).

Four applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in February: (i) an application for the conversion of part of the former Buccleuch Hotel in Trinity Street, Hawick into a workshop and store for a joinery business (SBC Ref: 19/01784/FUL); (ii) an application for the change of use of the ground floor of the former Tower Hotel in Oxton, near Lauder, into offices in connection with a plumbing business (SBC Ref: 19/01727/FUL); (iii) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Broomhills, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/01691/PPP); and (iv) an application for alterations and extension to dwellinghouse at 22 Queen’s Croft, Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/01756/FUL).

At its meeting on 3 February the Planning and Building Standards Committee refused planning permission for two major proposals: (i) residential development on land east of Kittlegairy Avenue, Peebles (SBC Ref: 17/00606/PPP); and (ii) the erection of 8 wind turbines on land north of Carcant Lodge (Wull Muir), Heriot (SBC Ref: 19/00191/FUL).  The proposed residential development east of Kittlegairy Avenue comprised approximately 200 houses on 20ha of land on the south side of the B7062.  Objections to the development had been received from a number of consultees, including Peebles & District Community Council and Peebles Civic Society, and from a number of individual objectors.  A major issue is traffic generation and the requirement for a second bridge over the Tweed to serve further development in Peebles south of the river.  Planning permission was refused on the grounds that the site lies outwith the settlement boundary of Peebles; there is currently a five year effective housing supply in the Scottish Borders and there is insufficient justification for bringing this site forward for development; and the existing road system is incapable of accommodating the traffic likely to be generated by the proposed development and without a second river crossing, the additional traffic would cause congestion and compromise road safety in the town centre.

The proposed wind turbines at Wull Muir were refused on the grounds that they would have an unacceptable significant impact on the landscape and on defence and aviation safety.  The community was split on the proposal with an almost equal number of representations for and against.  The local community council, Heriot/Stow and Fountainhall Community Council, recommended refusal of the application.  Since the decision was made, the Ministry of Defence has withdrawn its objection subject to the turbines being fitted with aviation warning lights.  It will be interesting to see if an appeal against the refusal of planning permission is submitted to Scottish Ministers (and what the decision might be, particularly in view of the recent decision on the Gilston Hill appeal – see below!).

The Local Review Body on 17 February considered three appeals against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a fence at Denholm Mill, Denholm (SBC Ref: 19/00857/FUL) but reversed the Chief Planning Officer’s decisions to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Carlenrig Farm, Teviothead (SBC Ref: 19/00514/FUL) and for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Auburn Cottage, Ashkirk (SBC Ref: 19/01000/PPP) and granted planning permission for both proposed developments.

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, the appeal in relation to the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot, which had been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine following a successful challenge to the Court of Session to the Reporter’s decision, dated 7 February 2019, to approve the application (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068-1) was dismissed on 6 February 2020.  The Reporter in this appeal considered that despite the contribution that the proposed wind farm would make to helping to meet renewable energy targets, this and other potential benefits would not outweigh the environmental harm caused by the proposal.

The appeal against the serving of an enforcement notice in respect of the erection of a 1.8m high fence on land at Silver Grange, Old Greenlaw Farm, Greenlaw in Berwickshire was dismissed on 5 February (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2014).  The enforcement notice required the fence extending beyond the front elevation of the property to be removed or reduced in height to a maximum of 1 metre.  The enforcement notice was upheld subject to the time for compliance being increased from 1 month to 3 months.

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain 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).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July 2018.  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, an inquiry is to be held in relation to an application for an expansion of the Crystal Rig Wind Farm in the Lammermuirs, comprising the addition of 11 turbines to the existing 90 turbines (DPEA Ref: WIN-140-8).  The Inquiry will take place at the Volunteer Hall, Duns, commencing at 10.00am on Tuesday 10 March 2020.

Development Management: January 2020 Update

During January 2020, Scottish Borders Council received some 100 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Three applications relate to tourism and leisure development.

A re-application has been received for the erection of 52 holiday lodges on land north west of Willowdean House, Foulden in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 20/00067/FUL).  A similar application was refused planning permission by the Planning and Building Standards Committee on 2 September 2019, against the recommendation of the Chief Planning Officer to approve the application subject to conditions (SBC Ref: 18/01479/FUL).  The application was refused on the grounds that the proposed holiday lodges were not of the highest quality, were not in keeping with the local environment and would have an unacceptable adverse impact on the local infrastructure, specifically the capacity of local roads.  The supposed aim of the re-submission is to address the committee’s reasons for refusal.  If the list of objections already received is any indication, it is unlikely to allay the local community’s fears.

An appeal to the Scottish Ministers against the decision of the Planning and Building Standards Committee to refuse the previous application was received by the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) on 2 December 2019 and declined as being out of date [it should have been received within 3 months of the decision to refuse planning permission, i.e. before 2 December 2019].  No doubt, should the re-application be refused, an appeal will be submitted to DPEA more timeously.

Elsewhere in Berwickshire, an application has been received for the erection of 8 glamping pods at Buskin Farm, Coldingham (SBC Ref: 20/00040/FUL).  In commenting on the proposal, Visit Scotland emphasises that tourism is acknowledged by the Scottish Government as being central to the success of the Scottish economy and the Scottish Borders is predominantly a leisure tourism destination.  Visit Scotland supports developments that provide a quality experience and would contribute to the area becoming a sustainable year round destination.  It will be interesting to see how this and the Foulden application are assessed against these criteria.

In Roxburghshire, an application has been received for an extension to the Riverview Holiday Park at Mangerton, Newcastleton (SBC Ref: 19//01815/FUL).  The holiday park was established in 2002 when planning permission was granted for 37 holiday caravan pitches.  In 2015, planning permission was granted to allow the site to operate on a year round basis but for holiday use only.  The site has proved very popular and the submitted application requests planning permission for 17 holiday pods.  According to the applicant, camping and caravanning is an important lever for the Scottish economy, and this is particularly important in remoter rural areas such as Newcastleton.  The application is supported by the council’s economic development officer, who considers that it fits with the Scottish Borders Tourism Strategy 2013-2020 by increasing the volume of overnight visitors.  Can any comparisons be made with the Foulden application?

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, 111 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Again, the vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Perhaps of most interest is the decision to grant planning permission for the change of use of the Mosspaul Inn to a venue for private parties and functions (SBC Ref: 19/01597/FUL).  In November’s report, reference was made to the application for the historic Mosspaul Inn on the A7 at the boundary between the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, which once upon a time was a popular overnight stop on the A7.  But the days of the country inn seem to be over.  Apparently, its use as a venue for stag and hen parties has been going on for a number of years, with anti-social behaviour a common feature, much to the consternation of near neighbours in Mosspaul Bothy.  Nevertheless, the Chief Planning Officer has decided to grant planning permission for the proposed change of use, without reference to the Planning and Building Standards Committee, subject to two lengthy and detailed conditions (which I shall not repeat here).  As regards the alleged anti-social behaviour, the Chief Planning Officer has chosen not to attach any conditions limiting the use of the hot tub, which has been the main cause of concern, or relocate the BBQ and seating area further from the neighbouring property, or place any restrictions on the noise nuisance from music, but simply request that the applicant take these concerns into account in the future operation of the business.  It will be interesting to see if this ‘polite’ request proves adequate to allay the neighbour’s fears.

Six applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in January (all relate to the erection of dwellinghouses): (i) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Blyth Bridge, Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 19/01645/FUL); (ii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Tarf House, West Linton, Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 19/01646/PPP); (iii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Ashiestiel, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 19/01629/PPP); (iv) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Cowdenknowes, Earlston (SBC Ref: 19/01611/FUL); (v) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Plot 1, Mounthooly House, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 13/01081/FUL); and (vi) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Plot 2, Mounthooly House, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 13/01082/FUL).

At its meeting on 13 January, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the erection of a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant and retail store (B & M Bargains) on Commercial Road, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00509/FUL).  The planning permission is subject to clearance from the Scottish Ministers due to the site’s location within the River Teviot floodplain.  The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has maintained its objection to the proposal on the grounds of potential flood risk until such time as the Hawick Flood Protection Scheme, which is underway, has been completed.  It will be interesting to see what decision the Scottish Ministers come to.

The Local Review Body on 20 January considered four appeals against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse on Stow Road, Lauder (SBC Ref: 18/01766/PPP) and for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Dodlands, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/01358/PPP).  The LRB reversed the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a replacement dwellinghouse at Hoprigshiel Farmhouse, Cockburnspath, Berwickshire and granted planning permission subject to conditions and a legal agreement in respect of agricultural occupancy (SBC Ref: 19/00590/FUL).  The LRB continued consideration of the appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the erection of two dwellinghouses at Heriot (SBC Ref: 18/01777/FUL).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, two appeals remained outstanding at theend of January: (i) the appeal against the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot, which has been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine following a successful challenge to the Court of Session to the Reporter’s decision, dated 7 February 2019, to approve the application (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068-1); and (ii) an appeal against the serving of an enforcement notice in respect of the erection of a 1.8m high fence on land at Silver Grange, Old Greenlaw Farm, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2014).  The enforcement notice requires the fence extending beyond the front elevation of the property to be removed or reduced in height to a maximum of 1 metre.  This appeal was dismissed on 5 February and the enforcement notice was upheld subject to the time for compliance being increased from 1 month to 3 months.

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain 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).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July 2018.  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, an inquiry is to be held in relation to an application for an expansion of the Crystal Rig Wind Farm in the Lammermuirs, comprising the addition of 11 turbines to the existing 90 turbines (DPEA Ref: WIN-140-8).  The Inquiry will take place at the Volunteer Hall, Duns, commencing at 10.00am on Tuesday 10 March 2020.

Development Management: December 2019 Update

During December 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 100 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.

Wind farm applications still catch the eye.  On 23 December, an application was received for a Screening Opinion on the necessity for an Environmental Impact Assessment of a proposal to extend the operational life of the Dun Law Wind Farm, near Oxton, for a further 12 years from 2022 to allow the joint decommissioning of the Dun Law Wind Farm with the Windfarm Extension, planning permission for which expires in 2034 (SBC Ref: 19/01820/SCR).  There seems every likelihood that the planning permission for the Dun Law Wind Farm will be extended and it will be interesting to see where we are with sustainable energy generation in 2034 and what the future holds for Dun Law beyond that date.  Will it ever return to open moorland?

An interesting proposal at Tweedbank comprises the erection of a factory for light industrial use by Cademuir Engineering of Selkirk, which is sited on a previously designated greenfield site forming part of the landscaped and planted strip between Tweedbank industrial estate and the A6091 (SBC Ref: 19/01761/SPZ).  This landscape strip, a segment of which has already been cleared close to the Darnlee roundabout for the proposed Premier Inn development, was a fundamental part of the original Tweedbank scheme but is gradually being eroded by development.  According to the Chief Planning Officer, the proposed development is of a type permitted by the designated Tweedbank Special Planning Zone.

In the small village of Oxton, north of Lauder, an application to change the use of the ground floor of the Tower Hotel to offices is causing a stir amongst locals (SBC Ref: 19/01727/FUL).  The hotel closed in May 2019 and the dining room, lounge and bar have been used as offices.  Apparently, the owner was not aware that planning permission for a change of use was required.  Refusal of planning permission would not, of itself, result in the return of the licenced premises to the village and it will be interesting to see how this matter develops.  Could the recently established community development company, which has established a community shop in the village following the closure of the village shop, do the same for the pub?

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

During November, a similar number of applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Again, the vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Perhaps the most eye-catching consent granted by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers is the amended proposal by Eildon Housing Association for the erection of 2 blocks of residential flats comprising 22 housing units at Dukehaugh, Peebles (SBC Ref: 19/01471/FUL).  Readers might remember that a proposal for 2 blocks comprising 40 units was refused planning permission by the Planning and Building Standards Committee on 4 February 2019 although the Chief Planning Officer had recommended approval.  The Chief Executive of Eildon Housing was most put-out at this decision and immediately lodged an appeal to the Scottish Ministers.  However, the Reporter appointed to consider the appeal, after considering all the evidence submitted for and against the proposal, dismissed the appeal on 23 July 2019 and refused to grant planning permission.  On dismissing the appeal, the Reporter considered that the proposal would have a detracting influence on the distinctive character and appearance of the Peebles riverside and appear incongruous on account of the incompatibility of the design and scale of the proposed buildings.

The amended proposal is for a reduced number of residential units and a storey has been removed from the two blocks.  The buildings are slimmer and set further back from the river.  The roof design is simpler with pitched roofs finished in slate.  Areas of stone cladding have been introduced.  Whilst the original scheme generated some 150 objections, the amended proposal has generated none. No third-party objections were received.  Accordingly, the Chief Planning Officer has granted planning permission without recourse to the Planning and Building Standards Committee even though the original scheme was decided by the committee and was the subject of an appeal.  Although there were no apparent objections to the amended proposal, some readers might find this somewhat surprising given the history of the site.

In Denholm, planning permission has been granted for the erection of 12 dwellinghouses at Jedward Terrace although objections were received from neighbouring householders and the community council (SBC Ref: 19/01135/FUL).  Notwithstanding the objections, the Chief Planning Officer considered that, although the site lies outwith the development boundary and the approval would set a degree of precedent, the proposed development was an ‘exceptional’ development comprising affordable housing.

Four applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in December: (i) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Greenbraehead, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/01533/FUL); (ii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Dodlands, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/01358/PPP); (iii) the demolition of a dwellinghouse and erection of two dwellinghouses at Benrig, Cuddyside, Peebles (SBC Ref: 19/00193/FUL); and (iv) the installation of replacement windows at 10 Exchange Street, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/01091/FUL).

At its meeting on 9 December, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the conversion of Hartree House, near Biggar on the western fringes of the region, into a hotel despite objections from neighbours (SBC Ref: 19/01116/FUL).  Previously a hotel, it closed almost 20 years ago, but has been a venue for weddings since 2016 and objectors cited inadequate access and water supply as reasons for refusing its re-use as a hotel.  Nevertheless, the Chief Planning Officer was satisfied with the proposal subject to confirmation that a satisfactory water supply could be provided, that a satisfactory drainage system was in operation, that satisfactory access and parking was provided and that measures were in place to ensure that noise from functions was kept to an acceptable minimum.  The Committee also gave their approval, subject to amended house designs for the houses fronting Bowmont Street, for the conversion and partial demolition of Kelso High School to provide 34 extra-care flats for the elderly and 47 affordable homes (SBC Ref: 19/01244/FUL).

The Local Review Body on 16 December considered three appeals against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Maxton House, St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 19/01178/PPP) but reversed the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a replacement dwellinghouse at Folly Cottage, Woodside Farm, Kelso and granted planning permission (SBC Ref: 19/00965/FUL).  The LRB upheld the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to restrict the height of a replacement boundary fence at 4 Lauder Road, Earlston to 1.2m (SBC Ref: 19/01018/FUL).

In a number of cases this past year, local communities have voiced concerns that the planning process administered by Scottish Borders Council fails to meet the expectations of its constituents.  This seems to be a recurring theme, whether it be related to inadequate neighbour notification, inadequate information about proposals or inadequate time for consultation and representations to be made.  Coincidentally, the January 2020 edition of the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Journal, The Planner, includes a report of the ninth RTPI Nathaniel Lichfield lecture by Professor Gavin Parker, Chair of Planning Studies at Henley Business School, University of Reading, which touches on the subject of enabling communities to become more involved in planning [Nathaniel Lichfield was an urban and environmental planner who played a key role in planning in the 1960s and died in 2009].  Dr. Gavin Parker, co-author of Enabling Participatory Planning, expressed the view that the planning system is alienating communities instead of supporting them and that reform is needed to ensure that communities are co-owners of the planning system.  Without such reform, trust in planning would continue to erode suiting the agenda of those who would prefer to remove the protections that planning offers communities.  He was speaking on the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Skeffington Report Planning and People [which I well remember] which paved the way for a radical change in public participation in planning.  Dr. Gavin Parker believes that many local authorities do the bare minimum to deliver participatory planning and that developers and their agents have mastered the art of giving the appearance of good consultation while manipulating the process to deliver what they want.  Readers might see something of this approach in their experience of the planning system.  According to Dr. Gavin Parker, a wide ranging review is needed of community participation in contemporary planning.  Whilst in Scotland, the Scottish Government may have gone some way to tackle this issue in the 2019 Planning Act, it remains to be seen whether the proposals in the Act, for increased local involvement in planning through, for instance, the preparation of Local Place Plans comes to fruition.  Watch this space.

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, after a lengthy and time-consuming process, the long-standing appeal submitted on 2 November 2018 against the refusal of planning permission 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 was decided on 23 December 2019 (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072).  No doubt, much to the delight of the surrounding community, the Reporter has dismissed the appeal and decided to refuse planning permission for this contentious proposal.  The Reporter considered that, although in many respects the proposed development would be able to comply with the development plan and national guidance, the positive outcomes and potential economic benefits arising from the development were not sufficient to set aside the adverse environmental effects specifically relating to separate and cumulative visual and landscape effects and residential amenity effects at this location.

Two appeals remain outstanding: (i) the appeal against the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot, which has been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine following a successful challenge to the Court of Session to the Reporter’s decision, dated 7 February 2019, to approve the application (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068-1); and (ii) an appeal against the serving of an enforcement notice in respect of the erection of a 1.8m high fence on land at Silver Grange, Old Greenlaw Farm, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2014).

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain 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).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July 2018.  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, an inquiry is to be held in relation to an application for an expansion of the Crystal Rig Wind Farm in the Lammermuirs, comprising the addition of 11 turbines to the existing 90 turbines (DPEA Ref: WIN-140-8).  The Inquiry will take place at the Volunteer Hall, Duns, commencing at 10.00am on Tuesday 10 March 2020.

Development Management: November 2019 Update

During November 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 118 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.

An interesting proposal in the centre of Galashiels is for the conversion of first floor offices above W H Smith and the Post Office on Channel Street to from 3 flats and the refurbishment of 2 flats on the second floor (SBC Ref: 19/01659/FUL).  Another application seeks planning permission for the change of use of shop premises at 101 High Street to form two dwellinghouses (SBC Ref: 19/01623/FUL).  There are a number of similar properties in Galashiels town centre where there are opportunities to realise the potential residential use of upper floor premises; surely a welcome development in helping to revitalise and re-invigorate the town centre.

In Selkirk, a planning application for residential development on 1.8 acres of land at Ettrickhaugh Road envisages the erection of 6 dwellinghouses on land previously liable to flood (SBC Ref: 19/01687/PPP).  The site is now protected by the Flood Protection Scheme.  Nevertheless, measures are proposed to alleviate any further risk of flooding, such as raising the floor levels and building the house in flood resilient materials.  It will be interesting to see the council’s reaction to this proposal.

In the Ettrick Valley, Ettrick & Yarrow Community Development Company is proposing the erection of two dwellinghouses, and the change of use of the existing steading and alterations to provide three dwellings and five business units at Kirkhope Farm, near Ettrickbridge (SBC Ref: 19/01633/FUL).  All part of the development company’s attempt to re-invigorate the Valleys.

An intriguing application for the Mosspaul Hotel on the A7 at the boundary between the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, requests planning permission to change the use of the hotel to a venue for private parties and functions (SBC Ref: 19/01597/FUL).  Apparently, its use as a venue for stag and hen parties has been going on for a number of years, with anti-social behaviour a common feature, much to the consternation of near neighbours in Mosspaul Bothy.  Once upon a time, the Mosspaul Hotel was a popular overnight stop on the A7 but the days of the country inn seem to be over.  The use of a large private dwelling in West Linton for similar purposes was recently turned down and enforcement action taken to prevent its further use for short term visitor accommodation because of the unacceptable impact on neighbouring householders (see SBC Ref: 18/00074/UNUSE and DPEA appeal ref: ENA-140-2013).  An interesting comparison?

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

During November, some 130 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Again, the vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Four applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in November: (i) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at 25 Princes Street, Innerleithen (SBC Ref: 19/01356/PPP); (ii) the erection of a boundary fence at Goslawdales, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 19/01254/FUL); (iii) the erection of a tree house holiday let at Sandystones, Ancrum, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/00812/PPP); and (iv) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Town O’Rule, Bonchester Bridge (SBC Ref: 18/01194/FUL).

At its meeting on 4 November, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Berwickshire on a split vote (SBC Ref: 18/01620/FUL).  The surrounding area hosts a number of large poultry units and a number of local residents voiced concerns about the scale of the proposed development and the cumulative effect of the proposed and existing sites on their residential amenity.  The Chief Planning Officer, however, had no issue with the scale of the proposed development and considered that the mitigation measures proposed were sufficient to prevent unacceptable adverse impacts on residential amenity.  By 6 votes to 2, the Committee agreed.  The Committee also had no issue with a retrospective application for the erection of a general purpose agricultural/equestrian building at Old Greenlaw, outside Greenlaw in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 19/01142/FUL).

Much to the consternation of 20 residents in the village, who opposed the proposal, the Committee also approved the erection of two dwellinghouses at West Lodge, Minto in Roxburghshire (SBC Ref: 19/00947/FUL).  Whilst local residents considered that the suburban nature of the design of the proposed houses was out of character with this historic village, following a site visit the Committee, by 5 votes to 2, decided to approve the application.

At the same meeting, the Committee considered a report on the impact of the relaxation of the core activity area policy (policy ED4), which restricts non-retail uses in some of the region’s town centres.  This report indicates that during the trial period of one year, in which the core activity area policy for Hawick was removed and that for Galashiels relaxed, a total of 11 applications for changes of use to retail premises were approved.  However, the majority of these changes of use would, most likely, have been approved anyway and the report indicates, therefore, that the relaxation of the policy has had little effect.  Nevertheless, the Committee agreed that the relaxation of core activity policy should continue, meantime, until the finalisation and approval of the new local development plan, which will set out future town centre policy.

The local Review Body on 18 November considered one appeal against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for proposed uPVC replacement windows at 5-1 Sandbed, Hawick on the grounds that they would have a significant adverse an unacceptable visual impact on the character of the building and would be highly detrimental to the character and appearance of the Hawick Conservation Area (SBC Ref: 1900203/FUL & 19/00026/RREF).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, an appeal has been received against the serving of an enforcement notice in respect of the erection of a 1.8m high fence on land at Silver Grange, Old Greenlaw Farm, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2014).  Two other appeals remain outstanding: (i) the long-standing appeal against the refusal of planning permission 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 (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072); and (ii) the appeal against the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot, which has been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine following a successful challenge to the Court of Session to the Reporter’s decision, dated 7 February 2019, to approve the application (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068-1).

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain 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).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July last year (2018).  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, an inquiry is to be held in relation on an application for an expansion of the Crystal Rig Wind Farm in the Lammermuirs, comprising the addition of 11 turbines to the existing 90 turbines (DPEA Ref: WIN-140-8).

Development Management: October 2019 Update

During October 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 116 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Large scale developments are few and far between at the moment, a reflection of the general malaise in the building industry.

However, in Galashiels, a major housing development at Beech Avenue in Easter Langlee comprises the demolition of a number of the flatted properties built in the 1960s and their replacement by approximately 100 new dwellinghouses by Waverley Housing (SBC Ref: 19/01488/PAN).  A public consultation event in Langlee Primary School is planned for 29 November 2019 between the hours of 1.00pm and 7.00pm.

At the northern extremity of the region, a Scoping Report has been submitted to Scottish Ministers under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for a revised wind farm proposal, comprising 14 turbines up to 145m high to the blade tip, at Clioch Forest between West Linton and Eddleston in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 19/01489/SCO).  The council has until 15 November to respond with comments on the proposed matters to be taken into account in the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposal.

In Peebles, following the refusal of planning permission for the original scheme by Eildon Housing and the dismissal of the appeal to the Scottish Ministers, a revised scheme has now been submitted for residential development comprising 22 flats at Tweedbridge, Peebles (SBC Ref: 19/01471/FUL).  The local community appears to be more relaxed about this proposal than the original scheme.

In Coldstream, a proposed caravan park to the south of the Health Centre on Kelso Road is causing a great deal of support and objections amongst the local population (SBC Ref:19/01454/FUL).  Blackadder Caravan Park Ltd, which operates a caravan site in Greenlaw with some 175 static pitches is seeking consent for a holiday caravan and camping park comprising 140 pitches for caravans and 20 pitches for camping/glamping.  The applicant has been working with the community for some years to facilitate the community’s vision for the town.  A pre-application consultation in May 2019 generated a great deal of interest and objection.  A public event in June attracted some 100 people.  It will be interesting to see how the Planning and Building Standards Committee deal with this major application bearing in mind the split opinion of the local community.

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 October, some 130 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Again, the vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  A Certificate of Lawful Proposed Use or Development was granted on 4 October for the re-opening of the Caravan Park at Bonchester Bridge (SBC Ref: 19/00952/CLPU).  The caravan site closed in 2003 when plans for a housing development on the site was drawn up but subsequently withdrawn.  Planning permission was granted on 9 October for the use of land adjoining the Border Toyota Garage at St. Boswells as a demonstration/training area for electric and driverless cars (SBC Ref: 19/00945/FUL).  A novel idea which could put the Borders at the forefront of future sustainable travel.

Four applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in October: (i) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse on land north east of Maxton House, St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 19/01178/PPP); (ii) the installation of replacement windows to the front elevation of Lauder Cottage, Skirling, Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 19/01160/FUL); (iii) the erection of scaffolding with advertisement hoarding at Kirkburn Church, Peebles (SBC Ref: 19/01050/ADV);  and (iv) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Auburn Cottage, Ashkirk (SBC Ref: 19/01000/PPP).

At its meeting on 7 October, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the removal of restrictions on Sunday shooting at the Bisley at Braidwood Shooting Range, near Midlem for a temporary period of 9 months despite the concerns of a number of nearby residents (SBC Ref: 19/00932/FUL).  It will be interesting to see if problems arise in relation to the impact of noise from the range during this period and whether, in due course, an application will be submitted to make the Sunday opening hours permanent.  The Committee also granted planning permission for the erection of 13 dwellinghouses on land close to the tennis club on Hillside Terrace (the A7) in Selkirk much to the consternation of nearby residents concerned about the speed of traffic on the A7, even though it is within the 30mph limit, and the safety of the access to the site (SBC Ref: 19/00074/FUL).

The local Review Body on 21 October considered one appeal against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the detailed design of a proposed dwellinghouse at Dundas Cottage, Hopehouse, Selkirk on the grounds that the development would not relate sympathetically to the character of the surrounding area and the neighbouring built form (SBC Ref: 19/00521/AMC).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, two appeals remain outstanding: (i) the long-standing appeal against the refusal of planning permission 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 (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072); and (ii) the appeal against the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot, which has been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine following a successful challenge to the Court of Session to the Reporter’s decision, dated 7 February 2019, to approve the application (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068-1).

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain 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).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July last year (2018).  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, an inquiry is to be held in relation on an application for an expansion of the Crystal Rig Wind Farm in the Lammermuirs, comprising the addition of 11 turbines to the existing 90 turbines (DPEA Ref: WIN-140-8).

Development Management: September 2019 Update

During September 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 120 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Large scale developments are few and far between at the moment, a reflection of the general malaise in the building industry.

At the southern fringes of the region, in Newcastleton, the Newcastleton & District Community Trust (NDCT) has plans to restore and secure the re-use of Buccleuch House in the centre of the village, built in c.1850 by the Duke of the Buccleuch for community use (see SBC Ref: 19/01315/FUL).  It has been used as a club house, meeting rooms, a craft & resource centre and as a home to a small enterprise.  However, over time it has fallen into disrepair and needs a complete overhaul.  The NCDT plans to upgrade the building to provide, on the upper floor, bunkhouse accommodation for between 10-16 people to cater for the growing walking/cycling market.  On the ground floor, there would be a learning centre, meeting rooms and office space.  It is also proposed to provide on the land attached, a community laundry and secure bike lockers.  Newcastleton Business Forum wholly supports the project but objections, as well as letters of support, have been submitted and it will be interesting to see how this application progresses.

At the northern fringes of the region, in Peeblesshire, another interesting application relates to the erection of 15 huts on land east of Wester Deans, near West Linton (SBC Ref: 19/01256/FUL).  The applicant, Urban Animation, has obtained planning permission for similar developments at Saline and Falkland in Fife in support of the 1000 Huts Campaign launched in 2011 in response to a growing demand from a wide range of people to revitalise the hutting culture in Scotland.  In July 2017, the Scottish Government adopted new Building Regulations to enable hut building without a building warrant.  Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) defines a hut as “A simple building used intermittently as recreational accommodation (i.e. not a principle residence); having an internal floor area of no more than 30m²; constructed from low impact materials; generally not connected to mains water, electricity or sewerage; and built in such a way that it is removable with little or no trace at the end of its life.  Huts may be built singly or in groups”.

The application site forms part of North Clioch Wood and extends to some 5 acres.  Formerly a Forestry Commission Sitka spruce plantation, the site was cleared in 2009 and sold to the current owner, who has undertaken a replanting programme to create a mixed woodland.  Fifteen huts are proposed, each located within a 20 metre square plot, served by a group car parking area.  The huts would be finished with natural timber boarding, have a rectilinear shape and pitched roof finished in green recycled cellulose sheeting.  Heating would be from a wood burning stove; there would be no electricity supply but PV cells could be used to generate low voltage electricity for lighting.  Dry composting toilets would be located in each hut; no mains drainage or septic tank is proposed.  There would be no public water supply to the site.

It will be interesting to see what the local community and council officials make of this somewhat novel proposal for, if approved, there may well be a demand for further similar developments in this part of the Scottish Borders where, in the past, hut sites have been widespread and common-place and still exist at Eddleston, Soonhope, near Peebles and Carlops.

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 September, some 120 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Again, the vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  One proposal perhaps stands out; the conversion of Castle Venlaw Hotel in Peebles into residential apartments.  On 6 September, the Chief Planning Officer issued planning consent for the partial demolition and conversion of Castle Venlaw Hotel into eight residential apartments and the erection of three flats in the grounds (SBC Ref: 18/01287/FUL & 18/01286/LBC), known as scheme 2, which had been approved by the Planning and Building Standards Committee in March.  A simultaneous application for listed building consent for internal and external alterations to the building to form 11 residential apartments, known as scheme 1 (SBC Ref: 18/00181/LBC) had been referred to Scottish Ministers for determination because of objections from Historic Environment Scotland but this application has now been withdrawn.

Eight applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in September: (i) an application for the erection of two dwellinghouses on land north-east of 10 Railway Court, Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 19/01146/PPP); (ii) the demolition of an existing dwellinghouse and erection of a replacement dwellinghouse at Woodside Farm, Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00965/FUL); (iii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Newton Farm, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/00874/FUL); (iv) the erection of a fence at Denholm Mill, Denholm (SBC Ref: 19/00857/FUL); (v) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Carlenrig Farm, Teviothead, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00514/FUL); (vi) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Stow Road, Lauder (SBC Ref: 18/01766/PPP); (vii) the installation of replacement windows at 5-1 Sandbed, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00203/FUL); and (viii) the formation of a bus depot at Rhymers Avenue, Earlston (SBC Ref: 18/01018/FUL).

At its meeting on 2 September, the Planning and Building Standards Committee refused two major applications: (i) the development of a holiday park comprising 52 holiday lodges, reception/shop and office on land north west of Willowdean House, Foulden in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01479/FUL).  The proposal had attracted a great deal of objection and, although the Chief Planning Officer had recommended that the application be approved subject to 15 conditions, the Planning and Building Standards Committee decided to refuse planning permission (by a vote of 6 to 2) on the grounds that the proposed holiday lodges were not of the highest quality, were not in keeping with the local environment and would have an unacceptable adverse impact on local roads.  As a result, the proposed development would be inconsistent with the landscape characteristics of the area and would lead to unacceptable adverse impacts on pedestrian and road safety.  The Committee also refused planning permission for the erection of 57 dwellinghouses on land north east of Berwickshire High School in Duns (SBC Ref: 18/01635/FUL).  The southern half of the site is located within the 1 in 200 year functional floodplain and the eastern part of the site is also at the risk from flooding from an existing culvert and run-off from the main road (the A6105).  The Committee also considered that the proposals were over-engineered and did not create a clear sense of place; the external materials proposed were inappropriate; and there was inadequate landscaping to integrate the development with its surroundings.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee did, however, approve plans for the multi-million pound hotel, petrol station with food kiosk and drive-through café at Tweedbank, against the wishes of many hoteliers in Melrose.  The Borders Gateway development comprises a 71 bed Premier Inn, a BP petrol station and Marks & Spence food kiosk and Costa Coffee drive-through café (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL).  The original proposals had also included a large discount food retail unit but this was removed in response to objections and concerns about the impact on existing town centres.  Attracting a Premier Inn to the region has been an ambition of the council for some time and although the Galashiels community would have preferred a site in Galashiels, a site at Tweedbank has the advantage of good road and rail access.  The proposals attracted over 177 supporting comments and only 15 objections.  Councillors considered that the proposed hotel would cater for a different market to the hotels in Melrose.  Although the Chairman of the committee voiced concerns that the site occupied land identified for business and office purposes and moved that the application be refused, the committee voted by 6 votes to 2 votes to approve the application as per the Chief Planning Officer’s recommendation.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee also made a somewhat contentious decision in respect of a condition attached to the erection of a dwellinghouse in the village of Heiton, near Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00593/FUL).  The condition, attached to a planning permission granted in April 2016, required that an existing right of way which passes along the northern side of the site be maintained open and free from obstruction in the course of development and in perpetuity and shall not form part of the curtilage of the property.  No stiles, gates, steps or barriers to access should be erected to deter or hinder future pedestrian, horse rider or cyclist use.  However, large gates have been fitted at either end of the path through the house site and CCTV cameras monitor its use.  The application requested the removal of the condition from the planning consent and the applicant argued that it was not a relevant planning matter; rights of way are protected in terms of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.  Much to the consternation of many local residents and users of the path, the committee approved the application to remove the planning condition on the grounds that rights of way legislation exists to uphold public access rights and there was no longer a planning purpose of the condition.  However, the committee reiterated that the removal of the condition does not alter the status of the claimed right of way and should not be regarded as support of any proposal to extinguish and divert the path, which would require a separate request under the Land Reform Act.  Watch this space!

The Local Review Body on 16 September considered three appeals against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.  The LRB overturned the officer’s decision and granted planning permission for the erection of three holiday lodges at Hallrule Farm Cottage, Bonchester Bridge (SBC Ref: 18/01680/FUL).  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse at The Rest, Murrayfield, St. Abbs in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01654/FUL) and for the use of land at Milkieston Toll House, Peebles as a dog walking facility (SBC Ref: 18/01161/FUL).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, much to the annoyance of householders at Coopersknowe, Galashiels, the appeal by Eildon Housing Association, for the erection of 69 dwelling units at Coopersknowe, Galashiels was upheld on 25 September (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2075).  Some compensation for Eildon for the loss of its appeal against the refusal of planning permission for 40 flats at Tweedbridge, Peebles?

Two other appeals remain outstanding: (i) the long-standing appeal against the refusal of planning permission 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 (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072); and (ii) the appeal against the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot, which has been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine following a successful challenge to the Court of Session to the Reporter’s decision, dated 7 February 2019, to approve the application (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068-1).

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain 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).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July last year (2018).  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, an inquiry is to be held in relation on an application for an expansion of the Crystal Rig Wind Farm in the Lammermuirs, comprising the addition of 11 turbines to the existing 90 turbines (DPEA Ref: WIN-140-8).