Development Management: June 2018 update

During June 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received 123 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The following applications are of particular interest:

  • Change of use of the upper ground floor of the Courthouse Business Centre, High Street, Peebles from office/retail use to hostel accommodation (SBC Ref: 18/00815/FUL);
  • Erection of a further 38 dwellinghouses at Thirlestane Drive, Lauder incorporating terraced, semi-detached and detached houses, 25% of which would be affordable housing likely to be social rent (SBC Ref: 18/00486/FUL);
  • Proposed retail and café development at Hergés on the Loch, Tweedbank (SBC Ref: 18/00776/PPP);
  • A retrospective application for the change of use of former garage and car showroom (the Redburn Garage on Peebles Road, Galashiels) to multiple use, including furniture workshop and showroom, caravan repairs, car valeting, catering unit, retail unit and sale of garden and outdoor equipment (SBC Ref: 18/00723/FUL).

In relation to the Proposal of Application Notice for the change of use of land to form a mobile luxury lodge holiday retreat on land west of Willowdean House, Foulden (SBC Ref: 18/00674/PAN), referred to in the May update, it is understood that a public exhibition was held in Foulden Village Hall on 29 June.  However, due to inadequate publicity in the local press, a further public event is to be held on 23 July 2018 and will be open to members of the public from 9.00am to 7.30pm.  The event will be attended by the applicant and/or the agent for the full period of the event to take questions from the public.

The much anticipated public event in relation to the Proposal of Application Notice for a major tourist development of 500 static caravans, 50 touring caravans and associated facilities on land at Thirlestane Castle, Lauder (SBC Ref: 17/01669/PAN), was held on 5 June 2018.  It will be interesting to see the results of this pre-application exercise when a planning application is submitted.

A Proposal of Application Notice has been submitted for a development by Eildon Housing Association of 69 dwellinghouses at Coopersknowe, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/00727/PAN).  A public exhibition is planned for 11 July 2018 at Langlee Community Centre, Galashiels between 3.30pm and 7.30pm.

A Proposal of Application Notice for the development of holiday lodges, hotel and golf driving range at the Roxburghe Golf Course was submitted on 20 June 2018 (SBC Ref: 18/00799/PAN).  A public exhibition on the proposed development is to be held at Heiton Village Hall on 7 August 2018 from 4.00pm to 7.30pm.

A Screening Opinion Request to determine whether an Environmental Impact Assessment is required in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2017 has been submitted for a large scale mixed use development, comprising retail, office, business/light industrial, hotel, residential and non-residential institution, housing and leisure use, together with a new access from the A68 and car parking, on the Auction Mart site at Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 18/00746/SCR).  A Proposal of Application Notice for the development was submitted on 9 February (SBC Ref: 18/00144/PAN) and a public consultation event was held in the Canteen at the Auction Mart on 26 March 2018 as part of the pre-application consultation process.

The council has been consulted on an application to erect a further 11 turbines at the Crystal Rigg Wind Farm, near Cranshaws in the Lammermuir Hills, which has been submitted to Scottish Ministers under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 (SBC Ref: 18/00768/S36).  A Pre-application consultation on the proposed extension was undertaken in the early part of this year and a public event was held in Cranshaws Village Hall in February 2018.

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 June 2018, the council decided 106 applications, only one of which was refused planning permission; for the erection of a dwellinghouse on the site of an agricultural building at Deuchar Mill in the Yarrow Valley (SBC Ref: 18/00355/PPP).  At its meeting on 4 June, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permissions for the erection of two dwellinghouses on land west of Peelgait, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00923/PPP) and for the erection of a single dwellinghouse at The Gables, Smiths Road, Darnick (SBC Ref: 18/00396/PPP).  At its meeting on 25 June, the Committee granted planning permission for the erection of seven boarding kennels at West Greenfields, near Reston in Berwickshire, subject to a noise mitigation plan to protect the amenity of nearby houses, and a waste management plan for the storage and disposal of wastes generated by the development (SBC Ref: 18/00173/FUL).  At its meeting on 18 June, the Council’s Local Review Body (LRB) decided to reverse the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the part change of use of a paddock to form a new access and drive to Southbank, Bowden and the erection of a summerhouse and tennis court (SBC Ref: 17/01362/FUL).

During June, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) allowed the appeal against the refusal, by the council, of planning permission for the erection of four dwellinghouses at Elders Yard, Newtown St. Boswells and granted planning permission in principle subject to eighteen conditions (SBC Ref: 17/01342/PPP) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2070).  The Reporter concluded that the proposed development did accord, overall, with the relevant provisions of the local development plan and that there were no other material considerations that would justify refusing to grant planning permission in principle.

Five appeals remain to be determined against the refusal of planning permission: (1) for the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2069); (2) for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068); (3) for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (4) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); and (5) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).

In relation to the appeal against the refusal of planning permission for residential development at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw, the appointed Reporter has intimated that she is minded to grant planning permission subject to a legal agreement in respect of a contribution to affordable housing.  The Reporter’s decision has been deferred for a period of 12 weeks pending the production of a completed planning agreement within that time.

The accompanied site inspection in connection with the appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2069), took place on 14 June.

The public inquiry to be held in relation to the refusal of planning permission 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), is to commence at 10.00am on 24 July 2018 in the Novotel Hotel, Edinburgh Park (near the Gyle) and is expected to run for 2 days.  Members of the public are welcome to attend.  The public inquiry will be broadcast live to the internet as part of the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division’s webcasting service.

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

 

Protected trees and woodlands, and high hedge legislation

Of the 1500 applications received by Scottish Borders Council during 2017, 110 related to “Works to trees”.  None of these applications were refused.  To date (end of May 2018), some 52 applications for “Works to trees” have been received by SBC.  An application for works to protected trees is required where it is proposed to fell, top, lop, uproot or otherwise damage or destroy any tree to which a tree preservation order relates, any tree located within a conservation area that has a trunk diameter of more than 75mm (3 inches) when measured at 1.5m (5ft) above ground level and any tree that is protected through a condition attached to a planning permission.

There are some 60 approved Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) within the Scottish Borders Council area, many dating back to the 1970s.  They include individual trees, groups of trees and woodlands spread throughout the area.  Details of TPOs are available from the Tree Officer in the Planning and Building Standards Department.  There are currently some 43 Conservation Areas designated within the Scottish Borders.  The boundaries of these Conservation Areas are shown on the Local Development Plan Proposals Maps for the relevant settlement.  Under Section 172 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997, anyone proposing to cut down or carry out work on a tree in a conservation area is required to give the planning authority six weeks prior notice.  The purpose of this requirement is to give the planning authority an opportunity to consider whether a TPO should be made in respect of the tree.

Planning Circular 1/2011, published in February 2011 sets out Scottish Government Policy on TPOs and trees in conservation areas.  The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation Order and Trees in Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Regulations 2010 state that an application for consent to works to a tree or trees protected by a TPO must specify the operations for which consent is sought; provide reasons for the operations; and identify the protected tree or trees by means of a map or plan of a size and scale sufficient for the purpose.  The planning authority should keep a register of all applications for consent and the decisions made.  Where a planning authority refuses consent or grants consent subject to conditions, the applicant may appeal to the Scottish Ministers within 3 months of the council’s decision.  Works to Trees applications can be made by the owner of the trees or any other person as long as the owner is notified of the application.  Unlike planning applications, there is no requirement to notify owners and occupiers of neighbouring land.  Works to trees applications require an application form and a plan which clearly identifies the trees affected by the application.  The application form should set out clearly what is proposed, whether it be felling, removing or reducing some branches or reducing the crown, and any proposals for replacement planting.  The reasons for the application should also be fully explained, preferably with the support of professional advice from an arborist or tree surgeon.

The council can only consider the impact of the work on the amenity value of the tree(s) or woodland and whether the work is justified.  There is no legal requirement for the council to consult on tree applications.  Details of “Works to trees” applications are included in the weekly list of planning applications on the council’s Public Access Portal but comments are not invited.  Decisions are made by the Tree Officer following a site visit.  Scrutiny of the applications received in 2018, so far, shows a tremendous variation in the quality of the submissions.  In many cases, there is no application form just a letter requesting permission; in some cases a photograph simply identifies the tree to which the application relates, and in many cases the reasons for the application are somewhat cursory.  Only in a small number of cases is the application accompanied by a report produced by a professional.

A report commissioned by the Scottish Executive [now the Scottish Government] to examine the effectiveness of the TPO system in Scotland, published in 2002*, concluded that the management of many TPO sites was either non-existent or to a very low standard through a combination of lack of knowledge, finance and commitment to the maintenance of protected trees.  With regard to procedures and technical standards, the report considered that there was a distinct lack of up-to-date government advice on TPOs.  The lack of an accurate consistent local authority database meant that there was no complete picture of the extent and nature of TPOs across Scotland.  It was recommended that all councils needed to update their records.  The report also identified that there was an uneven pattern in the way that councils applied the provisions of the 1997 Planning Act and linked regulations and a lack of adequate monitoring of changes to TPOs.  Little has changed since 2002.

*Roger Jessop; The Effectiveness of Tree Preservation Orders in Scotland, Scottish Executive Social Research, 2002 [ISBN 0950 2254; ISBN 0 7559 3439 3]

A relatively new provision is the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013, which came into force on 1 April 2014.  This Act was introduced in response to the increasing problem of high boundary hedges (the most notorious being leylandii) which harmed the enjoyment of a neighbour’s property (house and/or garden), normally as a result of the loss of light.  Unlike boundary fences or walls that require planning permission if they exceed two metres in height, there is no such restriction on planting trees or shrubs to form a hedge.  A ‘high hedge’ is defined in the Act as one which is “wholly or mainly formed by a row of two or more trees or shrubs which is over 2 metres in height and forms a barrier to light”.  An application for a ‘High Hedge Notice’ can be made by the owner and/or occupier of the affected property.  A potential applicant must have made efforts to resolve the issue with the neighbour themselves before an application is made.  An application received by the planning authority where there is no evidence of this having been attempted must be rejected.

In dealing with such applications, the planning authority must notify the owner and occupier of the land on which the offending hedge is situated and invite comments, which must be submitted within 28 days.  There is no requirement, however, to publicise high hedge applications.  The planning authority must visit the site and then decide “Whether the height of the hedge adversely affects the enjoyment of the domestic property which an occupant of that property could reasonably expect to have”.  If the planning authority considers that the hedge has little adverse effect it can decide to take no action.  If the planning authority decides that the hedge is having an adverse impact, it can issue a High Hedge Notice which sets out what the hedge owner must do to remedy the harm caused by the high hedge; this usually involves reducing the height of the hedge to 2 metres but could require other measures to be taken.  The act allows the applicant to appeal to Scottish Ministers against the decision of the planning authority not to issue a High Hedge Notice or if they consider that the works required by the High Hedge Notice do not go far enough.  The owner or occupier of the land on which the hedge is located can appeal if they think that a High Hedge Notice should not have been issued; if they consider that the works required by the Notice go too far or the council has not given them enough time to carry out the works.

Although there was a flurry of high hedge applications, nationally, when the Act came into force in 2014 (when there were over 120 applications), the number has decreased across Scotland since 2014.  In the Scottish Borders, there have only been three applications, one in 2014, one in 2015 and one in 2016.  In the first case, a High Hedge Notice was issued and complied with; and, in the second case, the council decided not to issue a Notice.  The third application (SBC Ref: 16/01092/HH), submitted in September 2016, would appear to remain undecided.  One wonders whether Scottish Borders residents are fully aware of the legislation on high hedges introduced by the Scottish Government in 2014 or whether, perhaps, this problem is more concentrated in the urban areas of the Central Belt and the North East, areas that saw considerable housing development in the 1970s and 1980s.  Explanatory guidance on applying for a high hedge notice is available from the Scottish Government and can also be accessed on the Scottish Borders Council Public Access Portal.

 

Development Management: May 2018 update

During May 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received 146 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The following applications are of particular interest:

  • Change of use of part of Unit 8 at Tweedside Park, Tweedbank (the former Plexus Facility) to form a gymnasium, children’s soft play area and associated café. (SBC Ref: 18/00635/FUL);
  • Erection of a further 64 dwellinghouses at Sergeants Park, Newtown St. Boswells for Eildon Housing (SBC Ref: 18/00486/FUL);
  • Erection of replacement village hall at Abbey St. Bathans in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/00488/FUL); and
  • The formation of a static caravan park at Kirkburn, Cardrona in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 18/00390/FUL).

A Proposal of Application Notice has now been submitted in relation to the change of use of land to form a mobile luxury lodge holiday retreat on land west of Willowdean House, Foulden (SBC Ref: 18/00674/PAN).  It is proposed to hold a display of the proposed development in Foulden Village Hall on 29 June throughout the day with a question and answer session between 7.00pm and 7.30pm.  It is unclear from the application whether the display is to be staffed throughout the day and the council’s Principal Planning Officer has reminded the agent in this case that the public event, which must be held under Regulation 6 of the Development Management Procedure Regulations, should be staffed throughout the day [and not just for half an hour] by people knowledgeable in the proposals so that the community can participate meaningfully in the event and their views can be discussed.

The much anticipated public event in relation to the Proposal of Application Notice for a major tourist development of 500 static caravans, 50 touring caravans and associated facilities on land at Thirlestane Castle, Lauder, submitted on 5 December 2017 (SBC Ref: 17/01669/PAN), has now been arranged for Tuesday 5 June.  It will be held in Lauder Public Hall from 3.00pm to 8.00pm.

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 May 2018, the council decided 129 applications, only one of which was refused; for the change of use of a retail premises on Bank Street in Galashiels to a tattoo studio (SBC Ref: 18/00398/FUL).  At its meeting on 21 May, the Council’s Local Review Body (LRB) upheld the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse on land north-west of The Gables, Gattonside on the grounds of inadequate access (SBC Ref: 17/01617/PPP) and his decision to refuse planning permission for an extension to 34 Edinburgh Road, Peebles on the grounds of its form and scale (SBC Ref: 17/01731/FUL).  The LRB decided, however, to overturn the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Blacklee Brae, Bonchester Bridge and granted planning permission, subject to conditions and informatives (SBC Ref: 17/01685/PPP).

During May, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) dismissed the appeal against the refusal, by the council, of planning permission for residential development on land east of Edinburgh Road, Peebles (SBC Ref: 17/00015/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2067).  The Reporter concluded that the proposed development did not accord with the provisions of the local development plan, in particular policy PMD4, and that there were no other material considerations that would justify granting planning permission.

Six appeals remain to be determined against the refusal of planning permission; (1) for the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of four dwellings at Elders Yard in Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 17/01342/PPP; (2) for the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2069); (3) 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); (4) for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (5) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); and (6) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).

Scottish Ministers have also called-in the application by Eildon Housing Association for residential development at Huddersfield Street, Galashiels in view of the proposed development’s possible significant level of flood risk (DPEA Ref: NA-SBD-054).  The Planning and Building Standards Committee determined on 26 March 2018 to grant planning permission for the proposed development, against the advice of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, subject to clearance from Scottish Ministers (SBC Ref: 17/00695/FUL).  Having considered the proposal, Scottish Ministers have decided, in terms of Section 46 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 to require the application to be referred to them for determination.  A Reporter from the DPEA will now assess the written evidence in relation to the possible flood risk and submit a report with recommendations to Scottish Ministers for their consideration and determination.

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

 

Development Management: April 2018 update

During April 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received 153 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The following applications are of particular interest:

  • Redevelopment of part of the former Peter Scott Complex on Buccleuch Street, Hawick to form ten apartments for the over 55s (SBC Ref: 18/00498/FUL);
  • Proposed holiday park on land north west of Willowdean House, Foulden in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/00473/SCR);
  • Erection of anemometer mast up to 90m high at Brockhouse Farmhouse, Fountainhall (SBC Ref: 18/00469/FUL);
  • Change of use of the former bar/restaurant at 95 High Street, Galashiels to office accommodation and light industrial workshop (SBC Ref: 18/00464/FUL);
  • Change of use of Netherbyres House at Eyemouth from a care home to a wedding venue (SBC Ref: 18/00455/FUL); and
  • The partial demolition of the former gate lodge and re-positioning of gate piers at West Lodge, Faldonside, near Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/00357/LBC).

The Council has also been consulted on a proposal to construct and operate an offshore windfarm comprising a maximum of 54 turbines with a maximum blade tip height of 208m in the Firth of Forth approximately 15.5 kilometres east of Fife Ness (the Neart Na Gaoithe Wind Farm) (SBC Ref: 18/00375/S36).  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 April 2018, the council decided 123 applications, only four of which were refused planning permission under delegated powers to the Chief Planning Officer; for the erection of a dwellinghouse on Smith’s Road, Darnick, Melrose; for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Langton Birches to the south of Duns in Berwickshire; for the part change of use of a shop to a flat at 14 North Bridge, Hawick; and for the change of use of an office to two flats on Dovecote Road Industrial Estate in Peebles.  Of those applications that were successful, perhaps the most interesting is the proposed 20 bedroom hotel at North Slipperfield, near West Linton, on the edge of the Pentland Hills, granted planning permission on 5 April (SBC Ref: 16/01526/FUL).  This proposal supersedes a planning permission for a “shooting lodge”, which included a number of guest bedrooms, leisure facilities and treatment rooms, granted in September 2008, with a varied permission in August 2013, which expired in August 2016.  The principal of a hotel was, therefore, established and, although sited within the Pentland Hills Special Landscape Area, the Chief Planning Officer considered that the design of the proposed hotel was appropriate to its rural location.  Visit Scotland supported the tourism element of the proposed development and the local community council had no objections.

At its meeting on 16 April, the Council’s Local Review Body (LRB) was faced with three housing in the countryside proposals refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  The LRB overturned the officer’s decision in two cases but upheld the officer’s decision in the third case.  Consequently, planning permission was granted for a dwellinghouse on a site on the edge of Ednam village, near Kelso and on a site at Kailzie Mains, near Peebles.  In the first case, the LRB considered that the proposal represented a logical extension to the settlement of Ednam (SBC Ref: 17/01613/PPP & 18/00004/RREF).  In the second case, the LRB considered that the proposal constituted a well-related addition to a building group with a sense of place (SBC Ref: 17/01572/PPP & 18/00006/RREF).

Planning permission was refused, however, for the erection of a dwellinghouse in woodland at Peelburnfoot in the Tweed Valley near Clovenfords (SBC Ref: 17/01008/FUL & 17/00053/RREF).  This particularly controversial case, which had attracted a lot of attention locally, raised a number of questions about the introduction of new evidence in the review of a determination by an appointed officer of the council.  Section 43B of the 1997 Planning (Scotland) Act states that a party to the review proceedings (the applicant, the council and third parties) is not to raise any matter which was not before the appointed person at the time the determination was made unless that party can demonstrate that the matter could not have been raised before or there are exceptional circumstances.  In this case, the applicant took the liberty of submitting further material relating to a number of issues, which the LRB decided was new evidence that did not meet the tests in Section 43B of the 1997 Planning (Scotland) Act.

Although the proposed development was described by the applicant as “Erection of replacement dwellinghouse” and the site was described as “Derelict dwelling”, members concluded, on the basis of the contrary evidence provided by objectors, that there was no evidence that the existing building (a derelict kennels) had been a dwellinghouse and that any incidental residence associated with the use of the building as kennels had not been proven.  The LRB concluded that the proposal did not comprise a replacement dwelling, nor the restoration of an existing former dwelling.  They also concluded that the proposal did not constitute the conversion of an existing building as the application was for demolition; that the proposal was not well related to an established building group and that there was no business case for a house to manage the woodland within which it was sited.  Accordingly, the proposal did not comply with the relevant sections of housing policy HD2 of the local development plan.  Although new evidence on the number of trees that required to be felled as a result of the proposed development was considered, the LRB accepted the advice of the council’s Planning and Landscape Officers that it was likely more trees would be adversely impacted by the construction and occupation of the dwellinghouse than those identified on the revised plan.  They considered that the impact on trees within a woodland that was subject to a Tree Preservation Order would be unacceptable.

The LRB also upheld the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for an extension to a house on Craig Brown Road in Selkirk on the grounds that it amounted to overdevelopment of the site (SBC Ref: 17/01409/FUL & 18/00005/RREF).  The LRB, however, overturned the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the change of use of shop on Bank Street, Galashiels to a dog grooming practice (SBC Ref: 17/01704/FUL & 18/00007/RREF).  In so doing, the members of the LRB were particularly influenced by the specific nature of the proposal and considered that the proposed use would make a positive contribution to the diversity of uses along Bank Street.

On 30 April, the Council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee approved a number of applications, including; (i) Changes to the layout and refurbishment of lodges at Whithaugh Park Holiday Centre at Newcastleton (SBC Ref: 17/01740/FUL); and (ii) the erection of an 80 metres high anemometer mast at Braidlie in the Hermitage Valley, south of Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/253/FUL).  Although the purpose of the proposed mast is to establish the wind characteristics of the area to determine the wind resources for a prospective wind energy development, granting planning permission for such a mast does not commit the planning authority to accepting any subsequent wind energy proposal.  Any such proposal requires to be considered on its own merits against the requirements of the local development plan and any other material considerations.

During April, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) issued two determinations.  The appeal against an amenity notice in respect of the erection of scaffolding and metal panel fence on land at Kirkburn Church, near Peebles was dismissed on 11 April (DPEA Ref: ANA-140-2000).  The appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a windfarm of 8 turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse in Berwickshire was upheld on 23 April and planning permission was granted subject to 31 conditions (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2060).  The Reporter found that although a number of those persons that made representations drew attention to the council’s view that the landscape of the area had reached capacity in terms of the number of turbines that could be accommodated, this did not prevent the proposal being considered on its merits and, considered on its merits, the Reporter considered that the proposal accords with the relevant provisions of the development plan and that there were no material considerations that would justify a refusal of planning permission.

Seven appeals remain to be determined against the refusal of planning permission; (1) for the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of four dwellings at Elders Yard in Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 17/01342/PPP; (2) for the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2069); (3) 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); (4) residential development on land to the east of the Edinburgh Road in Peebles (SBC Ref: 17/00015/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2067); (5) for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (6) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); and (7) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).

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

 

Development Management: March 2018 Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As anticipated , the refusal of planning permission for the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of four dwellings at Elders Yard in Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 17/01342/PPP) is now the subject of an appeal to Scottish Ministers (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-270).  This brings the number of appeals to Scottish Ministers against the refusal of planning permission to eight (which must be an all-time record!).  The others that remain outstanding are: (1) for the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2069); (2) for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068); (3) for residential development on land to the east of the Edinburgh Road in Peebles (SBC Ref: 17/00015/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2067); (4) for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (5) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); (6) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059); and (7) a proposed windfarm of 8 turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, also in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2060).

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

Three wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remain outstanding: (1) the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills; (2) the application to extend the operational life of the existing Fallago Rig wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) (DPEA case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6); and (3) an application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick (DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).  In relation to the Fallago Rig applications, the inquiry and hearing sessions were held in August 2017.  In December 2017, the Scottish Government published the Scottish Energy Strategy and its Onshore Wind Policy Statement and the Reporter has offered the parties involved an opportunity to submit observations on the implications which may arise from these documents for the determination of the applications.  The exchange of representations and comments is continuing.  In relation to the Birneyknowe wind farm application (WIN-140-7), the inquiry and hearing sessions took place at Minto Golf Club during March (much interrupted by the inclement weather!).  A site inspection of the application area was successfully carried out on 29 March and the deadline for closing submissions was Monday 2 April with the applicant having the last word with a deadline of 9 April 2018.  We shall have to await and see whether this will be another knock for the council and the local community.

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

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

Development Management: February 2018 update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven appeals to Scottish Ministers against the refusal of planning permission remain outstanding: (1) for the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2069); (2) for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068); (3) for residential development on land to the east of the Edinburgh Road in Peebles (SBC Ref: 17/00015/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2067); (4) for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (5) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); (6) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059); and (7) a proposed windfarm of 8 turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, also in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2060).

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

Three wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remain outstanding: (1) the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills; (2) the application to extend the operational life of the existing Fallago Rig wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) (DPEA case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6); and (3) an application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick (DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).  In relation to the Fallago Rig applications, the inquiry and hearing sessions were held in August 2017.  In December 2017, the Scottish Government published the Scottish Energy Strategy and its Onshore Wind Policy Statement and the Reporter has offered the parties involved an opportunity to submit observations on the implications which may arise from these documents for the determination of the applications.  I relation to the Birneyknowe application (WIN-140-7), inquiry and hearing sessions are scheduled for the week beginning 5 March 2018.  These will be held at Minto Golf Club, commencing at 10.00am on Monday 5 March [Delayed until Wednesday 7 March (provisional date) due to adverse weather conditions – heavy snowfall!!].

 

Development Management: New Year 2018

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

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

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

Seven appeals to Scottish Ministers against the refusal of planning permission remain outstanding: (1) for the construction of a wind farm comprising 12 turbines at Pines Burn, south west of Hobkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00010/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2069); (2) for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068); (3) for residential development on land to the east of the Edinburgh Road in Peebles (SBC Ref: 17/00015/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2067); (4) for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (5) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); (6) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059); and (7) a proposed windfarm of 8 turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, also in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2060).

Following the Scottish Ministers controversial decision to approve the construction of a 14 turbine wind farm at Whitelaw Brae, near Tweedsmuir in Peeblesshire in early December, three wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remain outstanding: (1) the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills; (2) the application to extend the operational life of the existing Fallago Rig wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) (DPEA case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6); and (3) an application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick (DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).  How will these applications be determined?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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