Development Management: September update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In addition to the recently submitted appeal in respect of the relocation of the Job Centre in Galashiels to retail units at Douglas Bridge, Galashiels, two other appeals remain outstanding: (1) against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire; and (2) against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a proposed windfarm of eight turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, also in Berwickshire.  Details of the appeals can be found on the DPEA website (case references PPA-140-2059 & PPA-140-2060).

Four applications for windfarms, submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remain to be determined.  An inquiry into the application for a 14 turbine wind farm at Whitelaw Brae, near Tweedsmuir in Peeblesshire was held in September 2016.  The report of the inquiry has been sent to Scottish Ministers for determination and a decision is awaited (see DPEA case reference WIN-140-4).  An inquiry into the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills and the application to extend the operational life of the existing wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) was held in August 2017.  The details of both cases can be found on the DPEA website (case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6).  It is likely to be next year before a decision on these applications is forthcoming.  An application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick, to which the Scottish Borders Council, the community council, many residents of the local community and others have objected is to be the subject of further examination, probably involving an inquiry later this year; the arrangements for a pre-examination meeting have yet to be finalised but have provisionally been set for 25 October 2017 (see DPEA case reference WIN-140-7).

Development Management: August up-date

During August 2017, Scottish Borders Council received 127 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents.  These included such diverse proposals as an application for the approval of the details of proposed housing at Caerlee Mill, Innerleithen; a development of 44 dwellinghouses, comprising detached, semi-detached, terraced and flatted dwellings, previously granted planning permission in principle in March 2016 (SBC Ref. 17/01174/AMC); an application for planning permission for the erection of a Pagan Multi-Faith Temple at Kirkburn, near Cardrona in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref. 17/01039/FUL); and a re-application for the council’s own waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, Galashiels (SBC Ref. 17/01149/FUL), previously refused planning permission in April 2017 on the grounds that the Langshaw Road (C77) is inadequate for the additional traffic likely to be generated by the proposal.

The submission of a pre-application request for a screening opinion under Regulation 8 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2017 for the erection of new car showroom, including workshop, offices, petrol filling station, shop and café on the west side of the A68 north of the existing Toyota Garage at St. Boswells was submitted to the council on 1 August 2017.  An exhibition on the proposed development is to be held at St. Boswells Village Hall on Tuesday 12 September (advertised in the Southern Reporter on 31 August 2017), where members of the project team will be in attendance to answer questions regarding the proposals.

During August 2017, the council decided some 120 applications, only a handful of which were refusals of planning permission.  On the 7 August, the Planning and Building Standards Committee refused planning permission, on the casting vote of the Chairman, for the erection of storage and distribution buildings and an ancillary dwellinghouse on land outside Dolphinton on the grounds that it had not been demonstrated that there were overriding economic and/or operational reasons for locating the business in this countryside location.  The proposed development, which would accommodate the applicant’s two existing businesses which currently operate from the Dolphinton area, comprised a range of buildings housing a loading bay and cement silo, garaging and vehicle store, materials storage sheds and an external area for the manufacture and storage of concrete blocks.  The council considered that the proposal would represent unjustified, sporadic and prominent development in the open countryside contrary to policies of the adopted local development plan.  It is yet to be seen whether the applicant will appeal against the decision to refuse planning permission or accept the decision.  The applicant has three months to appeal to the Scottish Ministers (the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals).

Four other applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers; applications for: (1) the erection of two chalets for holiday accommodation at Falahill Cottages, Heriot; (2) a dwellinghouse on Deanfoot Road in West Linton; (3) the formation of a short-stay holiday park and erection of 12 mobile log cabins at Kirkburn, Cardrona near Peebles; and (4) an agricultural building at Kirkburn, Cardrona, near Peebles.  Will any of these refusals be referred to the Local Review Body?

Since the election of the new Scottish Borders Council in May 2017, the Local Review Body has dealt with fourteen reviews of decisions by officers under delegated powers; in ten cases, the Local Review Body upheld the decision of the officer.  In four cases, the officer’s decision was reversed or varied: (1) the deemed refusal of planning permission, through a failure to determine the application within the prescribed period, for the erection of a detached garage with first floor studio and extension to dwellinghouse at Danderhall Cottage, St. Boswells, was reversed and planning permission granted subject to a number of conditions; (2) the decision to grant planning permission for a new dwellinghouse on land at Dundas Cottage, Ettrick, subject to a condition that required a slate roof on the dwellinghouse rather than a metal profile sheet roof, was varied to allow the use of grey metal profile roof cladding; (3) the decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of two dwellinghouses at Broomlee Mains, West Linton, was reversed and planning permission granted subject to conditions; and (4) the decision to refuse planning permission for a vehicle body repair workshop on land at Dunrig, Spylaw Farm, Lamancha, West Linton was reversed and planning permission granted subject to conditions.

Details of all the applications received by the council and all the decisions made in August can be found on the Scottish Borders Council’s website.

Renewable Energy Development: Wind Farm Guidance

Wind farms have been a significant issue in the Scottish Borders for a number of years.  By December 2016, 483 turbines over 15m in height to blade tip had been approved in the Scottish Borders with the potential to generate 747MW of energy.  Many of the larger scale commercial developments have taken place in the Lammermuir Hills; at Crystal Rig, Aikengall and Fallago Rig, and within the Moorfoot Hills at Dun Law.  In response to the increasing number of proposals for wind farms, the Scottish Borders Council prepared Supplementary Planning Guidance on Wind Energy in May 2011 to reflect Scottish Planning Policy set out in 2010.  However, the 2010 Scottish Planning Policy requirements have been superseded by Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) 2014.  SPP 2014 requires planning authorities to prepare spatial frameworks for onshore wind farms based on three distinct areas: (1) areas where wind farms will not be acceptable, (2) areas of significant protection where wind farms may be appropriate in some circumstances, and (3) areas where wind farms are likely to be acceptable, subject to detailed consideration against identified policy criteria.

The Scottish Government Reporters who examined the Proposed Local Development Plan in 2015 were of the view that the Local Development Plan and the Supplementary Planning Guidance approved in 2011 did not comply with the new national policy (SPP 2014) and proposed modifications to the Local Development Plan that required the council to prepare Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy, to include other forms of renewable energy as well as wind energy, within one year of the adoption of the Local Development Plan.  The Scottish Borders Local Development Plan was adopted in May 2016 and the council published its Draft Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy in December 2016.  The period for consultation on this supplementary guidance ended in April 2017.  The results of this consultation are still awaited!

In the meantime, Scottish Borders Council continues to deal with wind farm proposals and assess them against the relevant policies of the approved Strategic Development Plan 2013 and the adopted Local Development Plan 2016 supplemented by its adopted 2011 Supplementary Planning Guidance on wind energy.

Development Management: Appeals

An applicant for planning permission can challenge the decision of the council to refuse planning permission or attach conditions to the grant of planning permission and can appeal against the non-determination of an application within the time period prescribed by regulations (usually two months).  If the application was determined by the Planning and Building Standards Committee of Scottish Borders Council, any appeal must be made to the Scottish Government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA).  Details of how to submit such an appeal can be found on the DPEA website.

Recent decisions from the DPEA on applications determined by the Planning and Building Standards Committee include the upholding of an appeal against the decision to limit planning permission to a limited period of two years for the part change of use of Hartree House, Kilbucho, near Biggar in Peebleshire to a wedding venue and the erection of marquees, and the refusal of planning permission for the erection of 19 holiday lodges at Whitmuir Hall, near Selkirk.  In the case of the proposal at Hartree House, the Reporter concluded that the imposition of a trial period of two years was unnecessary and granted planning permission without a time limit.  In the case of the proposal at Whitmuir Hall, the Reporter concluded that the proposal accorded with the development plan and that there were no other material considerations to justify a refusal of planning permission; the Reporter did not consider that the proposed development would have a negative impact on the landscape or on the Whitmuirhall Loch Site of Special Scientific Interest subject to the imposition of a number of conditions.  Details of both appeals can be found on the DPEA website (see case references PPA-140-2058 & PPA-140-2057).

Two appeals remain outstanding; against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire, and against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a proposed windfarm of eight turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, also in Berwickshire.  Details of the appeals can be found on the DPEA website (case references PPA-140-2059 & PPA-140-2060).

Any proposal to construct or operate a wind farm with a capacity in excess of 50 megawatts requires the consent of Scottish Ministers under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 (rather than planning permission under the town and country planning acts).  Four applications for wind farms, submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remain to be determined.  An inquiry into the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills and the application to extend the operational life of the existing wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) was held in the week beginning 21 August 2017 at the Carfraemill Hotel in Lauderdale.  The details of both cases and the representations made at the inquiry can be found on the DPEA website (case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6).  It may be some time before a decision is made on these applications by Scottish Ministers.  An inquiry into the application for a 14 turbine wind farm at Whitelaw Brae, near Tweedsmuir in Peebleshire was held in September 2016.  After a few delays, the report of the inquiry has now been sent to Scottish Ministers for determination.  An application for the erection of 15 wind turbines on land at Birneyknowe, near Bonchester Bridge, south-east of Hawick, to which the Scottish Borders Council, the community council, many residents of the local community and others have objected is to be the subject of an inquiry, probably later this year; the arrangements have yet to be finalised (see case reference WIN-140-7 on DPEA website).  Watch this space for further news!

Development Management: Overview

In the Scottish Borders the determination of applications for planning permission in respect of large scale developments, such as a housing development comprising 50 or more dwellings or where the development site exceeds 2 hectares, and which is significantly contrary to the local development plan, is a matter for the Council as a whole to consider.  The Planning and Building Standards Committee is responsible for deciding all other applications for planning permission but has delegated the determination of most applications to the Service Director Regulatory Services (Chief Planning Officer, Ian Aikman).  The Service Director is authorised to determine applications for planning permission for development, other than large scale developments, and any other application for consent, agreement or approval required by a condition imposed on a planning permission for a development, other than a large scale development, except where:

  • it is proposed to approve the application and the proposal is significantly contrary to the Development Plan;
  • it is proposed to approve the application and there are at least five letters of representation from separate households that raise material planning comments;
  • it is proposed to approve the application and there is a formal objection from a statutory consultee;
  • the Planning and Building Standards Committee decides to deal with the application itself; or
  • the application is submitted by an elected Member of the Council.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee consists of nine members, under the chairmanship of Councillor Tom Miers, member for Leaderdale and Melrose.  The Committee meets twelve times a year to consider those applications for planning permission that have not been delegated to the Service Director for determination.  In 2016/2017, the council decided 635 planning applications and granted 177 other consents, including 91 listed building and conservation area consents and 30 advertisement consents; 95% of all applications were approved (the Scottish average was 94.2%).

In 2016/2017, the Planning and Building Standards Committee considered 37 applications for planning permission.  Two appeals to Scottish Ministers, against the refusal of planning permission by the Committee, were decided by Reporters appointed by Scottish Ministers (one was upheld and one was dismissed).  96.9% of all applications were delegated to the Service Director (Chief Planning Officer) for decision (the Scottish average was 95.3%).  Twenty-nine of these decisions were appealed and went to the Local Review Body for a review of the decision.  The Local Review Body, which is comprised of the nine members of the Planning and Building Standards Committee and is chaired by the chairman of that committee, conducts reviews of applications for planning permission that have been refused, granted subject to conditions or not determined within the prescribed period (usually 2 months) by the Service Director, i.e. the Chief Planning Officer.  In 2016/2017, the Local Review Body, which also met twelve times, overturned 16 of the original 29 decisions by the Service Director; only 44.8% of the original decisions were upheld.

Notable refusals of planning permission by the Planning and Building Standards Committee in 2017 include a residential development of 38 dwellings on Marchmont Road, Greenlaw, Berwickshire; a proposed windfarm of eight turbines at Howpark, Grantshouse, Berwickshire (contrary to the officer’s recommendation); and the Council’s own proposed waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, Galashiels (also refused contrary to the officer’s recommendation).  The refusal of planning permissions for the residential development at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw and the proposed wind farm development at Howpark, Grantshouse are the subject of appeals to the Scottish Ministers.

The proposal for a waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, Galashiels, refused planning permission in April on the grounds that the Langshaw Road (C77) is inadequate for the additional traffic likely to be generated by the proposal, is now the subject of an amended application submitted on 17 August 2017.  According to the Transport Statement, which accompanies the application, a review of improvement options for the Langshaw Road has been carried out and a series of measures have been identified, which it is hoped will satisfy the Planning and Building Standards Committee.  We shall have to wait and see!

Follow this website to see how applications for planning permission are dealt with in 2017/2018.  There will be a monthly report on planning applications received by the Scottish Borders Council, and decisions made, together with updates on appeals to the Scottish Ministers.