Local Development Plan 2: Main Issues Report 2018

As detailed in my September 2018 post, Scottish Borders Council approved the Main Issues Report (MIR) for the review of the Local Development Plan on 30 August 2018.  The MIR has now been published and is available online at www.scotborders.gov.uk/ldp2mir.  Hard copies are available to view at Council Headquarters at Newtown St. Boswells during normal office hours and at all Council Contact Centres and Libraries.  The public consultation period continues until 31 January 2019.

The MIR identifies the key development and land use issues which the new local development plan (LDP2) must address and sets out preferred options for tackling these issues.  Key issues include:

  • regeneration of town centres;
  • opportunities for growing the economy;
  • housing land provision;
  • employment land provision;
  • delivery of infrastructure;
  • delivering sustainability and addressing climate change; and
  • promotion of quality building design;

Public participation and community engagement is a key part of the development plan process.  The MIR and the accompanying Environmental Report has now been formally advertised in the local press and there will be wide consultation with all key agencies, neighbouring authorities and community councils, local organisations and businesses.  A programme of afternoon drop-in sessions and evening workshops has been organised across the Scottish Borders at the venues below:

  • Newcastleton, Village Hall: 13 November (drop-in session, 2.00-6.00pm);
  • Kelso, Sainsbury’s foyer: 15 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Kelso, Town Hall: 15 November (workshop 6.00-8.00pm);
  • Selkirk, 1 Tower Street/pop-up shop: 19 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.30pm);
  • Eyemouth, Co-op, High Street: 21 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Eyemouth, Community Centre: 21 November (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);
  • Peebles, Burgh Hall, High Street: 26 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Peebles, Burgh Hall, High Street: 26 November (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);
  • Duns, Council Chambers, Newtown Street: 27 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Duns, Council Chambers, Newtown Street: 27 November (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);
  • West Linton, Village Centre: 28 November (drop-in session, 2.00-6.00pm);
  • Galashiels, Tesco foyer: 29 November (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Galashiels, Transport Interchange: 29 November (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);
  • Newtown St. Boswells, Council Chambers, Council HQ: 12 December (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);
  • Hawick, Morrisons foyer: 13 December (drop-in session, 2.00-5.00pm);
  • Hawick, Heritage Hub, Kirkstile: 13 December (workshop, 6.00-8.00pm);

No booking is required for the afternoon drop-in sessions but the council asks that people wishing to attend the evening workshops let the local plans team know by contacting localplans@scotborders.gov.uk or ringing 01835 826671.  Remember, if you don’t make your views known, they can’t be considered.

 

Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP): September 2018

The council’s Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) was adopted, originally, in 2001 and has been updated by a series of Habitat Action Plans produced between 2003 and 2010.  The LBAP forms the basis for the council’s Supplementary Planning Guidance for Biodiversity, approved in November 2006, and provides guidance on the implementation of policy EP3: Local Biodiversity, in the adopted Local Development Plan.  An updated LBAP, which has been prepared to take account of changes in national policy, was approved by the Planning and Building Standards Committee of Scottish Borders Council on 3 September 2018.

The updated LBAP is organised around the priority themes of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (SBS), which was amended in 2013 in response to both the UN Convention on Biological Diversity targets set in 2010, to halt biodiversity loss and restore the natural environment to health, and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2020.  The SBS themes outline six steps for nature to achieve the 2020 challenge:

  • Ecosystem restoration;
  • Investment in natural capital;
  • Quality greenspace for health and education benefits;
  • Conserving wildlife in Scotland;
  • Sustainable management of land and freshwater; and
  • Sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems.

The updated LBAP takes account of the challenge of climate change, which may disrupt our ecosystems and their ability to provide beneficial services such as water flow regulation to reduce flooding, improvement to water quality, sequestration of carbon on peatlands and woodlands and pollinating services to help food production.  The LBAP seeks to help address the key pressures identified in the SBS: pollution, land use intensification and modification, spread of invasive species and wildlife disease, lack of recognition of the value of nature, disconnection with nature and marine exploitation.  A set of actions has been developed focussed around the six themes set out in the SBS, for delivery within the period 2018-2028 with some actions prioritised for delivery within 5 years.  By updating the LBAP, the council hopes to demonstrate that it is seeking to put in place good practice, working with its partners, to meet its duties in relation to biodiversity and climate change.  The updated LBAP will provide up-to-date and relevant guidance on how ecosystems can be valued and assessed as part of policy development in the local development plan.

The updated LBAP will be the subject of public consultation in parallel with the consultations on the recently approved Main Issues Report (MIR) prepared to identify the key issues to be addressed in the new local development plan LDP2).  The updated LBAP will ultimately form proposed Supplementary Guidance in the new local development plan (LDP2).  Biodiversity may seem, to many, to be a rather bewildering subject but protecting and maintaining the natural environment, habitats and wildlife is essential for our future on planet earth.  We can all play our part so get involved in the forthcoming discussions on the Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP).

Local Development Plan 2: Main Issues Report, September 2018

Scottish Borders Council approved the Main Issues Report (MIR) for the review of the Local Development Plan on 30 August 2018.  The new Local Development Plan (LDP2) will replace the adopted Local Development Plan 2016.  It will guide future development for the period 2021 to 2026.  The MIR is not a draft version of the LDP2 but a consultation document which sets out the key issues for consideration.  It draws together the findings of the Call for Sites from potential developers, the results of a number of public events and workshops held in 2017, and consultations with statutory bodies and other council departments.  It takes account of national planning requirements and the strategy and policies in the latest Strategic Development Plan (SESplan2), which has recently been the subject of Examination by Reporters from the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA).  Their recommendations have been submitted to Scottish Ministers and a decision on their recommendations is expected by the end of 2018.

The Main Issues Report (MIR) focusses on the issues to be addressed in the new local development plan and sets out the council’s proposed and alternative approaches to planning and development under the following headings:

  • Vision, aims and spatial strategy;
  • Growing the economy;
  • Planning for housing;
  • Supporting town centres
  • Delivering sustainability and climate change agenda;
  • Regeneration
  • Settlement maps and
  • Planning policy issues.

According to the MIR, the population of the Scottish Borders will increase from an estimated 115,020 in 2017 to 116,777 by 2026.  There will be a marked increase in the proportion of the population over 65 years old, with a 31% increase in the number of people aged 75 and older, which will have an increasing impact on health, housing and social care provision.  Based on the population projections, additional housing will be required to address the needs of the older population and the growth in smaller households (those of one or two persons).

The main employment sectors in the Scottish Borders are health and social work, retail, construction, education, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and public administration.  The Scottish Borders continues to rely on traditional rural activities focussed on agriculture, forestry and fishing.  In terms of industrial activity, there is an adequate supply of employment land in most parts of the Scottish Borders but there is a continued low take-up through development.  Nevertheless, there is a recognised need to allocate further employment land within the Peebles area and in Galashiels.  The provision of high amenity business land in the Central Borders is seen as essential to capitalise on the investment in the Borders Railway.  The council continues to support the promotion of the line extending to Carlisle as well as an improved service for Berwickshire with a rail halt at Reston.  In addition to transport, digital connectivity remains vital to the future development of the Borders and it is critical that the region benefits from maximising the provision of Full Fibre Connectivity to businesses and the wider community.

The role of town centres is changing and vacancy rates continue to increase.  In the Scottish Borders, retail vacancy rates and performance are patchy.  Measures need to be considered to keep town centres in the Scottish Borders viable and vibrant.

Infrastructure provision will be required to enable future development.  New housing allocations can also put a strain on education provision.  However, given the limited number of additional houses required within the LDP2 period, it is not envisaged that this should be an insurmountable problem, except perhaps in the Peebles catchment.

Delivering sustainable development and ensuring a high quality of design for all developments are key requirements of Scottish Planning Policy and the LDP2 must reflect these requirements.  LDP2 must also promote a low carbon future and help the Scottish Government achieve climate change targets.  It must promote economic stability and growth whilst protecting the built and natural intrinsic values of the Scottish Borders.

The Strategic Development Plan (SESPlan) requires strategic growth in the Scottish Borders to be directed to three growth areas: the Central Borders, the Western Borders (centred on Peebles) and Berwickshire.  The Central Borders growth area focusses on Galashiels, Melrose, Earlston, Kelso, Jedburgh, Hawick and Selkirk.  It is the primary area for growth within the Scottish Borders; it is at the centre of the roads network and served by the Borders railway.  In the Western Borders, Peebles is attractive to prospective house builders but potential flood risk issues and the need for a second bridge over the River Tweed prior to any further land being released for housing on the south side of the river, limit options for development.  In Berwickshire, growth is focussed on Duns and Eyemouth.

In relation to growing the economy, the Blueprint for the Border Railway seeks to maximise employment opportunities along the railway corridor.  A masterplan has been prepared for Tweedbank, including the Lowood Estate, which offers a range of development opportunities.  A masterplan has also been prepared for Galashiels town centre, which outlines a number of potential redevelopment opportunities.  The Hawick Action Plan identifies a range of opportunities to develop and improve Hawick as a place for working, living and visiting.  One of the main challenges is to find new employment land for business and industry in the vicinity of Peebles because of topographical constraints, flood risk issues, traffic congestion issues and the need for a new bridge to allow development south of the Tweed.  An independent study has identified site options which are set out in the MIR.

Public engagement is a key part of the development plan process.  The MIR and the accompanying Environmental Report will be formally advertised in the local press and will be made available for a consultation period of 12 weeks.  It will be placed on the council’s website and made available for inspection at all public libraries and council Contact Centres.  There will be wide consultation with all key agencies, neighbouring authorities and community councils, local organisations and businesses.  It is proposed to hold a series of ‘public surgeries’, which will include an exhibition, across the Scottish Borders.

So keep an eye out for the announcements (and follow this website).  Remember, if you don’t make your views known, they can’t be considered.

It will be the autumn of 2019 before the proposed new local development plan (LDP2) is completed.  It will then be the subject of consultation before submission to Scottish Ministers.  Any unresolved representations will be the subject of Examination by a Scottish Government Reporter from the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA), probably during the summer of 2020.  The conclusions and recommendations of the Reporter must be taken into account before the local development plan is adopted by Scottish Borders Council.  It is anticipated that the new Local Development Plan (LDP2) will be adopted by the summer of 2021.  Once adopted, LDP2 will replace the current Local Development Plan, adopted on 12 May 2016.

County Planning in the 1940s and 50s: Roxburghshire County Council

Roxburghshire County Council established its Planning Advisory Committee in February 1944 to deal with the first applications for planning permission under the Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) (Scotland) Act 1943.  The Duke of Buccleuch was elected its first Chairman, with the committee advised by the County Clerk and County Architect.  John A.W. Grant, Architect/Planner of Edinburgh was engaged to prepare a planning scheme for the county.  Under the 1943 Act, the Department of Health expected planning applications to be dealt with within 14 days; there was no such thing as neighbour notification or public consultation of any kind, except that town councils (Hawick, Jedburgh and Kelso) were consulted on applications within their areas.  During the 1940s, large-scale housing schemes proposed by the town councils, such as at Silverbuthall and Burnfoot in Hawick and at Headrig in Jedburgh, were approved with little fuss, and with little planning advice other than that obtained from the County Surveyor, County Architect and County Sanitary Inspector.

A major issue for Roxburgh County Council was the future of the Charlesfield Bomb Factory site, near St. Boswells, built in 1942.  It was one of only two factories in Britain producing incendiary bombs and at its peak employed 1,300 people and produced over 1 million bombs a month.  Production ceased in 1945 and it became a Royal Navy Armaments Depot to store small arms and guns.  In 1947, it still employed over 170 male workers but both the Hawick and Galashiels Trades Councils were concerned about its future and campaigned to secure it as an industrial site.  However, it continued to be used as a storage, maintenance and repair facility for the Admiralty, employing about 100 workers (male and female), until the 1960s.

The Regional Survey and Plan for Central and South-East Scotland prepared by Sir Frank Mears, and published in 1946, recommended the establishment of a joint committee of local authorities based in a new regional hub at St. Boswells/Newtown St. Boswells where offices, a new hospital, an agricultural college, student accommodation and housing would be developed.  Industrial development would be concentrated in the existing burghs but the Charlesfield munitions depot was identified as a potential site for an assembly plant for the hundreds of pre-fabricated houses required after the war.  However, the idea of a regional centre at Newtown St. Boswells did not go down well with the four Border county councils; it was considered that the centralisation of authority in one location did not take due account of the historic pattern of development in the Scottish Borders and local politics.

Nevertheless, following the enactment of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1947, which introduced wide-ranging planning powers to control development, including the requirement to prepare development plans, discussions were held between the four Border county councils regarding the co-ordination of town and country planning across the region.  Although Peeblesshire County Council did not consider there would be any benefit to its area from such co-ordination, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Berwickshire County Councils decided to form a joint planning advisory committee for such purpose and in July 1947 approached architect/planner F.W.B. Charles, who had been the lead professional in the Central and South-East Scotland Study, to explore the practicalities of preparing a joint development plan for the three counties.  However, after providing estimated costs for his appointment to prepare a development plan for the three counties, and further deliberation on the practicalities of employing a consultant, the joint planning advisory committee, on the recommendation of the three county clerks, decided in October 1947 not to proceed with a joint development plan.  The reason provided in the minutes is the progress that had been made by Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire County Councils on the preparatory surveys of their areas, although it has to be said that the progress made by these two councils was not exceptional.  Indeed, work on the survey of Roxburghshire County continued throughout the next two years and it was December 1949 before an interim survey report was produced by John A.W. Grant.

At the end of 1949, Roxburghshire County Council still had no planning staff of its own, advice on planning applications being provided by the County Architect.  John A.W. Grant was engaged to prepare the development plan.  However, progress was slow; much time was spent on up-dating the out-dated 1:2500 scale OS Maps for the burghs (1921 editions for Hawick, Jedburgh and Kelso).  The 1947 Act required planning authorities to prepare a development plan within 3 years of the commencement date, 1 July 1948, and in 1951 the Department of Health for Scotland suggested that the council should employ its own planning staff but the council was not persuaded.  However, as the years passed by and the Planning Advisory Committee became increasingly dis-satisfied with progress on the development plan, the council decided in October 1952 to appoint additional staff in the County Architects Department to assist with the preparation of the development plan.  The services of John A.W. Grant were dispensed with.

The County Architect, Alastair M. Milne, was appointed County Architect and Planning Officer in March 1953 and the Planning Advisory Committee was re-named the Planning Committee.  George B. Ovens, who would rise to become Depute County Planning Officer in 1968 and would be appointed Depute Director of Planning and Development for the Borders Regional Council in 1975, was poached from Selkirkshire County Council and was appointed Town Planning Draughtsman.  In November 1953, a planning assistant was appointed to provide further assistance with development control matters.

During the 1950s, there was a proliferation of advertisements, on hotels, public houses, garages and petrol filling stations, and advanced signs in the countryside.  The council designated the whole of the county as an Area of Special Control for Advertisements, except for the burgh of Hawick, parts of the burghs of Jedburgh and Kelso and parts of Melrose, Lilliesleaf, Newstead and St. Boswells.  The Committee agreed to the retention of advanced signs such as that for the Peebles Hydro located on the A68 at Newtown St. Boswells (one of a number of such signs sited throughout the Borders area) but requested the removal of others, such as a similar sign advertising the Peebles Hydro on the A68 south of Jedburgh and signs for the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel on the A68.  Mindful of the growing attraction of caravanning and camping, caravan sites were granted planning permission on the A68 south of Jedburgh and on the A7 south of Teviothead and north of Galashiels; planning permission was granted for a motel and petrol filling station on the A7 at Groundistone Heights between Ashkirk and Hawick (which was never implemented).

Extensive consultations and discussions took place with the town councils over various allocations and proposals for Hawick, Jedburgh and Kelso, and it would be May 1957 before a draft development plan comprising the Survey Report and Written Statement, County Map, Town Maps for Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso, Melrose, Newtown St. Boswells and St. Boswells, and a Programme Map, was completed and submitted to the Department of Health for Scotland for informal comments.

The development plan was based on an estimated county population of 44,560 in 1972, a decrease of about 1,000 persons on the 1951 Census figure.  Clearly, the county council was not optimistic about the future.  No definite industrial proposals were included in the Plan other than in Jedburgh, where the collapse of the rayon industry in 1956 had resulted in the loss of some 500 jobs.  The policy on residential development was concentrated on replacing over-crowded and unfit houses and meeting general needs through local authority housing.  Road proposals dominated with major road improvements proposed for the A7 and A68 trunk roads and improvements to the A698.  Road widening schemes in Hawick, Kelso and Melrose required the demolition of large numbers of properties and major changes to the historic street patterns in these towns that would cause consternation in later years and would be dropped from subsequent development plans.

It would be December 1961, partly due to the delay in the response from the Department of Health on the draft development plan, before the finalised development plan was submitted to the Secretary of State; the last of the four county development plans in the Scottish Borders to be prepared.  The next post on planning in Roxburghshire will examine the approved development plan in some detail and will also look at the impact of the Government’s White Paper on the Scottish Economy 1965-1970 and the subsequent Central Borders Study: A Plan for Expansion, published in 1968.

 

County Planning in the 1940s and 50s: Selkirkshire County Council

The first meeting of Selkirkshire County Council’s Planning Committee was held on Thursday 28 October 1943 but it was at the second meeting on 18 January 1944 that it appointed its Chairman, Major Scott Plummer of Sunderland Hall, and conducted its first business.  The first task for the new committee was to establish a system for dealing with applications submitted under the Interim Development powers conferred by the Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) (Scotland) Act 1943.  Under the 1943 Act, the Department of Health for Scotland expected planning applications to be dealt with within 14 days; there was no such thing as neighbour notification or public consultation of any kind.  In Selkirkshire, the County Clerk dealt with applications timeously and reported to the Planning Committee.

The first planning application, approved at the committee held on 28 April 1944, was for improvements and alterations to Langhaugh House on the Melrose Road, Galashiels [now demolished!].  Only five other planning applications were received in 1944, submitted by Selkirk and Galashiels town councils for the erection of temporary housing.  Twenty-one applications were determined in 1945, and eighty in 1946.  By 1950, the number of applications, all dealt with by the Planning Committee, had risen to 125.

The 1943 Act also required planning authorities to initiate a survey of their area (of the use of land, the use and condition of buildings, the provision of services such as water and drainage, gas and electricity, school provision and bus routes).  The Edinburgh Architectural Association had already undertaken a preliminary survey of Galashiels Burgh in 1943 for the Department of Health, which was responsible for town and country planning in Scotland at Government level.  In accordance with the requirements of the 1943 Act, the committee asked the burgh surveyor of Selkirk to undertake a comprehensive survey of Selkirk and John C. Hall, architect of Galashiels, was appointed to undertake the survey of the landward area.  Surveys of Galashiels, Selkirk and the main villages in the county, Ashkirk, Clovenfords, Ettrickbridge End and Yarrowfeus were completed by the end of 1944 and interim planning schemes were prepared in draft.

In Galashiels, the Department of Health had earmarked almost 20 acres of land at Gala Policies (Forest Gardens and Balmoral Avenue) for local authority development.  Local builders, John G & George A Hunter, built private houses at Glenfield and along the north side of Melrose Road at Wester Langlee.  In Selkirk, the town council submitted proposals for new housing at Raeburn Meadow and Philiphaugh (Bannerfield).  Although the County Agricultural Committee objected to the loss of agricultural land at Philiphaugh because of the effect on Philiphaugh Farm (a dairy farm), the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland (DAFS) had no objections and consent was granted.

Following the enactment of the Town and County Planning (Scotland Act 1947, there were discussions amongst Roxburgh, Selkirkshire and Berwickshire County Councils regarding the establishment of a joint advisory committee and the appointment of a planning officer to prepare one development plan for the three counties.  However, after some discussion, it was decided that each county council should appoint its own planning officer to prepare a development plan for each authority.  John C. Hall, who acted as County Architect, was appointed County Planning Officer for Selkirkshire County Council in September 1948 and given authority to employ additional staff to carry out the statutory duties required by the new Act.  All planning applications were submitted to the County Clerk, W T Dundas and considered by the Planning Committee, John C Hall and subsequently his son, John B Hall, providing planning advice.  George Ovens, who would later move to Roxburgh County Council and eventually become its Depute County Planning Officer, and Harold Hudson, were set to work on the preparation of the first development plan for Selkirkshire.

By October 1950 a draft development plan had been produced for discussion with Galashiels and Selkirk Town Councils.  Trunk road proposals were a significant issue, particularly in relation to the A7.  The Ministry of Transport had proposed a by-pass for Selkirk prior to the Second World War and, following the publication of the Regional Plan for Central and South-East Scotland in 1946, consulted both Roxburgh County Council and Selkirkshire County Council on a new trunk road linking the A68 and the A7 between Newtown St. Boswells and Galashiels involving a by-pass to Melrose and a new bridge over the River Tweed in the vicinity of Kingsknowes.  Whilst Selkirkshire County Council and Selkirk Town Council welcomed a by-pass for Selkirk, both the County Council and Galashiels Town Council had concerns over the impact on Galashiels of the proposed new link between the A68 and the A7.  Both the County Council and Galashiels Town Council favoured a by-pass to the west of the burgh involving a new road from the vicinity of the Tweed Bridge, on the A7 south of Galashiels, via Hollybush and Mossilee to cross the Gala Water and railway line at Wood Street and connect with the A7 at Torwoodlee.  The Ministry of Transport did not favour this expensive solution and also pointed out that such a route would not serve the traffic arriving at Kingsknowes from the A68 along the new link road.  Much to the consternation of the County Council and the Town Council, the Ministry of Transport proposed a new road through the centre of Galashiels from Abbotsford Road through Bank Street Gardens and the rear of High Street (involving the demolition of the old town hall) and Island Street, to connect with Wood Street and thence across the Gala Water to Torwoodlee.  Meetings between the County Council, the Ministry of Transport and the Department of Health ensued throughout 1950 and 1951.

The County Development Plan for Selkirkshire, one of the first to be produced in Scotland, was submitted to the Secretary of State in March 1953.  It was based on retaining a stable population in the landward area with small increases in Galashiels and Selkirk; with a target 1973 county population of 22,169 compared with a 1951 population of 21,724.  Local authority housing in Galashiels was concentrated in the Balmoral area and at Wester Langlee (to include a new school).  Sites for private housing were allocated at Ladhope and off Abbotsford Road at Binniemyre, Sunningdale and Brunswickhill.  In Selkirk, local authority housing was concentrated at Bannerfield.  In Galashiels, the plan included a proposed new bus station in the station yard to replace the use of the Market Place.  As regards the route of the A7, the county council wished to include a by-pass to the west of Galashiels, which would aid the development of the Hollybush area in the longer term, but the Ministry of Transport prevailed and the development plan included a new road through the centre of Galashiels.  The Secretary of State approved the development plan in April 1955, subject to the area at Sunningdale only being identified for longer term development after construction of the new link road.

On submission of the development plan to the Secretary of State, Harold Hudson sought pastures new and left the employ of John C Hall.  George Ovens also left and moved to Roxburgh County Council, to be replaced by Duncan Laing, who took up the position of Junior Planning Assistant.  However, it seems that during the 1950s it was impossible to attract suitably qualified planners to the Scottish Borders (Selkirk County Council was not alone, for Roxburgh County Council experienced the same difficulties) and there were no suitable candidates to fill the post vacated by Harold Hudson.  Therefore, throughout the mid-1950s there was only one dedicated member of staff, Duncan Laing, to support the County Planning Officer in providing advice on planning applications.  Work had also fallen behind on the Quinquennial Review of the Development Plan, a requirement of the 1948 Planning Act, so when Duncan Laing left in September 1957 and his position could not be filled, John C Hall was given authority to employ other staff within his practice on planning work.  Consequently, two people who would become well-known Border characters would emerge onto the planning scene; Frank Entwistle, an architectural technician within John C Hall’s practice, who took over responsibility for the review of the development plan, and John Gray, who had been taken on as an apprentice draughtsman in June 1956.  Frank Entwistle’s involvement in planning in Selkirkshire would continue until the re-organisation of local government in 1975, after which he would establish his own architectural practice.  John Gray would become an established figure in planning in the Borders and would subsequently pursue a career with the Borders Regional Council after 1975, eventually becoming a prime mover in the economic development of the region.

Throughout the late 1950s, work continued on the Quinquennial Review of the Development Plan against the background of a continually falling rural population, largely due to the mechanisation of agriculture.  In the period 1951 to 1961, the population of the county declined by some 700 persons.  Much emphasis was placed on the modernisation and expansion of existing industries and the encouragement of new industries to Galashiels and Selkirk.  Overspill agreements were negotiated with Glasgow Corporation to attract additional workers to meet the needs, particularly for female workers, of the traditional tweed and knitwear industries.  Large areas in Galashiels and Selkirk were identified for local authority housing.  Proposals were set out for the extension northwards of the Riverside Industrial Area in Selkirk along Dunsdale Road with a new junction on the A7 north of the Toll.  Outline plans were drawn up for the redevelopment of Selkirk town centre (the area bounded by Market Place, Kirk Wynd, Back Row and Tower Street), involving the demolition of some 150 unfit houses.  The county council continued to push for a by-pass to Galashiels but the Scottish Home and Health Department would not agree to the inclusion of a by-pass in the Quinquennial Review.

The next post will examine the Quinquennial Review, submitted to the Secretary of State in May 1964 and approved in January 1968, in some detail and will also look at the impact on planning in Selkirkshire of the Government’s White Paper on the Scottish Economy 1965-1970 and the subsequent Central Borders Study: A Plan for Expansion, published in 1968.

 

The Planning (Scotland) Bill 2017

The Planning (Scotland) Bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 4 December 2017 sets out the Scottish Government’s proposals for changes to the overall framework under which planning operates.  The Bill seeks to re-focus the planning system on enhancing community engagement and reducing and simplifying procedures and processes.  Key proposals include:

  • Abolition of strategic development plans, with the national planning framework forming part of the development plan;
  • Abolition of statutory supplementary planning guidance;
  • Local development plans to be in place for a period of 10 years rather than 5 years, with the right to amend them during that time;
  • Scottish Planning Policy to be incorporated into the national planning framework, to be reviewed every 10 years; and
  • Creation of Local Place Plans produced by a community body.

The Scottish Government proposes that Strategic Development Plans should be replaced by more proactive regional working partnerships.  However, there is little detail or clarity on how these regional working partnerships would operate and how tensions at the regional/strategic planning level would be resolved within the proposed enhanced National Planning Framework.

The Bill proposes changes to local development plans, suggesting that the plan period should be extended to ten years instead of the present five years; that the process for preparing local development plans should be shortened by the removal of the need for a Main Issues Report (to be replaced by a draft plan); and that supplementary planning guidance should be dispensed with.  The object of these and other changes is to provide stronger local development plans that deliver development.

Local Place Plans (LPPs) are one of the Scottish Government’s key proposals aimed at improving public engagement and involvement in the planning system.  The Government hopes that LPPs will provide an avenue for communities to feed into the development plan system.  However, there are concerns as to how LPPs interact with the local development plan and clear guidance will be needed on the form and content of LPPs, and how LPPs should be developed and submitted to the planning authority.  Interesting times ahead!

To improve the development management process, the Bill proposes changes to the pre-application process for major and local developments and changes to the scheme of delegation which are likely to extend the scope of appeals that would be made to the local review body rather than to Scottish Ministers.  Some may welcome these changes, others may be concerned at the prospect of more decisions on major developments being taken locally.

To improve the performance of planning authorities, the Bill proposes that councillors involved in planning decisions will be required to undertake training on planning matters and councillors that have not completed such training would be barred from undertaking such duties.  It may be that councillors already undertake some form of informal training but it would be difficult to argue against the need for proper training for those who are charged with the responsibility of discharging planning decisions.  In the Scottish Borders, the full council is responsible for the approval of the local development plan so it could, perhaps, be argued that the whole council should undertake such training, not just the members of the planning committee and the local review body.  Watch this space.

The Bill does not include any reference to third party appeals.  There has been a long-running campaign for the introduction of a limited third party right of appeal where those who have objected to a proposal that has been granted planning permission can request a review of the decision.  Scottish Ministers are opposed to the creation of a third party right of appeal.  The Scottish Government’s view is that:

“It is far more appropriate and more constructive to have stronger early engagement, involving people in the shaping of their areas, as provided for through the changes to development planning, the introduction of LPPs and more effective pre-application consultation. A third party right of appeal would increase delay and uncertainty through to the end of the planning process, running counter to the whole thrust of the Bill and wider review of planning in streamlining and front-loading the system”

The Bill is presently passing through Parliament.  The Bill completed Stage 1 on 29 May 2018 and consideration of the Bill at Stage 2 is scheduled to commence on 12 September 2018.  It will be next year (2019) before we have a better idea of what the Planning (Scotland) Act might look like.

 

 

Proposed Strategic Development Plan 2017 (SESplan)

The development plan currently consists of the Scottish Borders Local Development Plan (LDP), adopted in May 2016 and the Strategic Development Plan produced by SESplan, a partnership of six local authorities in the south east of Scotland; Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, Fife, Scottish Borders and West Lothian, which was approved by Scottish Ministers in June 2013.  SESplan’s second Proposed Strategic Development Plan was submitted to Scottish Ministers in June 2017.

 The Proposed Strategic Development Plan sets out an ambitious vision to guide the growth of the South East Scotland region over the next twenty years.  For the next 12 years (2018-2030), SESplan proposes that most growth will be largely met by land already identified in existing and proposed local development plans.  In the Scottish Borders, existing towns provide the focus for retail, commercial and strategic employment opportunities.  The potential future expansion of the Borders Rail line to Hawick and beyond could provide further opportunities for growth and regeneration in the Central Borders and Hawick.  On the East Coast Main Line, a new station at Reston would provide settlements in Berwickshire with easier access to employment and education opportunities in Edinburgh and stimulate tourism in the area.  Dualling of the A1 and improvements of the A68 and A7 would improve journey times to and from England.  SESPlan proposes a Green Network Priority Area connecting settlements in the Central Borders with Innerleithen and Peebles utilising former railway lines, offering considerable potential for walking and cycling between town centres and tourism attractions such as Abbotsford, Dryburgh Abbey, Traquair House and Glentress Mountain Biking Centre.

In relation to housing supply, the Proposed Strategic Development Plan indicates that there is sufficient housing land supply to meet housing land requirement for the 2018-2030 period in the Scottish Borders based on the land supply set out in the Local Development Plan.  However, a step change in the level of house building is needed if housing supply targets are to be achieved and this may warrant the permitting of proposals for additional housing on sites not identified in the local development plan, subject to it being consistent with the spatial strategy of the development plan and a number of other criteria.  Additional housing land allocations are likely to be required to meet the housing land requirement for the period 2030-2038.  These will need to be made in new Local Development Plans.

The Examination of the Proposed Strategic Development Plan, which commenced in August 2017, has been completed by Reporters appointed by Scottish Ministers and their report was submitted to Scottish Ministers on 20 July 2018.  The Reporters considered twenty-five unresolved issues and have recommended a number of modifications to the Plan.

In relation to the spatial strategy, the Reporters have recommended that the location of any additional sites to those identified in local development plans, that require to be identified for development in the period 2018-2030, should be in and around Edinburgh and along transport corridors.  In relation to Key Areas of Change in the Scottish Borders, the Reporters have recommended that the Strategic Development Plan should give more emphasis to the fact that major flood schemes in Selkirk, Hawick and Galashiels will provide opportunities for growth and regeneration in the Central Borders.

In relation to housing targets, the Reporters have increased the housing supply target for the Scottish Borders for the period 2018-2030 from 4,176 homes to 5,202 homes and the housing land requirement from 4,594 to 5,760 homes.  In relation to the five year effective housing land supply, where a shortfall is identified, sites for greenfield housing development not allocated in local development plans may be granted planning permission subject the development being consistent with the spatial strategy of the development plan and a number of other criteria.

It is now for Scottish Ministers to consider the report and decide whether or not to approve the plan, with or without modifications.

It should be born in mind, however, that future changes in planning legislation may make Strategic Development Plans redundant.  The Planning (Scotland) Bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 4 December 2017 sets out the Scottish Government’s proposals for changes to the overall framework under which planning operates.  The Scottish Government proposes that Strategic Development Plans should be removed from the system to be replaced by more proactive regional working partnerships.  So, the Proposed Strategic Development Plan is likely to be the last.  For more information about the Government’s proposals for the planning system, see the ‘Planning (Scotland) Bill 2017’ post.