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.

Local Development Plan Update: October 2017

The drop-in and workshop sessions organised by Scottish Borders Council at eight locations for those people who are interested in the future development of the Scottish Borders have now finished.  The purpose of these sessions was to encourage the public to contribute to the Local Development Plan process.  Attendance levels have varied, as one might expect; the sessions at Peebles and Galashiels were very well attended, but others less so.  The issues raised have covered a wide range of topics, from the need for a new bridge over the Tweed in Peebles, a by-pass for Selkirk and the safeguarding of the Waverley Route all the way to the border with England to the need for more flexibility towards uses within the region’s town centres and the greater use of brownfield sites rather than greenfield sites for new housing.  There are differing opinions, of course, but the purpose of the workshop sessions was to allow these opinions to be expressed and debated.

Housing land allocation does not appear to be a major issue.  If the Scottish Ministers go along with the additional housing land allocations proposed by the council in the Housing Supplementary Guidance, approved by Scottish Borders Council in August (see post on Draft Housing Supplementary Guidance, 30 August 2017), it would seem that few additional sites will be required in the new Local Development Plan.  This assumes that none of the existing allocated sites are removed from the Plan but there are question marks over sites that have been in the Local Development Plan for some years yet remain undeveloped.  If such sites are removed, replacements are likely to be required.

Town centre regeneration is a major issue, particularly in towns such as Galashiels, Hawick and Selkirk, but there are no easy answers.  There are different views on the alternative use of empty shop premises on the prime retail frontages in these town centres, on the encouragement of a mix of uses within town centres, including more residential uses, and the provision and regulation of car parking.  The key would appear to be the generation of increased footfall but how to do this remains a thorny problem.

The pressure for more wind farms continues unabated and this will be a major issue for the new Local Development Plan; turbines up to 200 metres to tip height are now being considered by developers.  Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) requires Local Development Plans to set out a spatial framework for wind farms which identifies: (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 criteria.  Scottish Borders Council has prepared Draft Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy, which includes a wind energy spatial framework.  When finalised, this will require to be incorporated within the Local Development Plan.  Meanwhile, proposals for wind farms continue to cause a great deal of anxiety amongst a number of communities.

The next step in the local development plan process is for the Council to produce a Main Issues Report (MIR), which identifies the issues that require to be tackled by the Plan and identifies preferred and alternative solutions.  The issues to be considered include:

  • identification of housing land;
  • employment land provision;
  • regeneration of town centres;
  • protection of the built environment;
  • promotion of placemaking and good design;
  • road and transport improvements;
  • renewable energy and addressing climate change;
  • protection of greenspace;
  • protection of the natural environment; and
  • protection of the Borders landscape.

Public engagement is a key part of the development plan process.  If you don’t make your views known, they can’t be considered.  The closing date for the submission of views and comments at this stage of the process is 27 October 2017.  All the submissions made at the drop-in sessions and at the workshops, and those submitted in writing, including the questionnaires distributed at the drop-in sessions, will be considered in the preparation of the MIR.

It will be the spring of next year (2018) before the MIR is finalised by the Council.  A wide-ranging consultation programme will follow during the summer of 2018 before the preparation of the local development plan itself commences in the autumn of 2018 and it will be the autumn of 2019 before the proposed new local development plan (LDP2) is completed.  Once adopted, the new Local Development Plan (LDP2) will replace the current Local Development Plan, adopted on 12 May 2016.  The new plan, LDP2, will guide future development for the period 2012-2026.

Local Development Plan Update: September 2017

Scottish Borders Council is currently preparing a new Local Development Plan (Local Development Plan 2) to replace the current LDP to guide future development within the Scottish Borders for the period 2021-2026.  SBC is at the very early stages of this process and is gathering evidence to produce the first document called the ‘Main Issues Report’, which will focus on the key areas of change from the current LDP and will present a range of options for future development.  A Call for Sites as part of the preparation of the MIR invited land owners, developers and agents to submit proposed development sites for consideration.  The period for submitting site proposals expired on 7 August 2017.

SBC is now holding a series of drop-in and workshop sessions for those people interested in the future development of the Scottish Borders to feed into the MIR process.  The council is proposing to hold drop-in and workshop sessions on the dates below (drop-in sessions will run from 2pm-5pm and workshop sessions from 6pm):

  • Thursday 21 September:        Community Centre, Eyemouth
  • Tuesday 26 September:         Town Hall, Kelso
  • Wednesday 27 September:    Tesco Foyer, Galashiels (drop-in session) and Transport Interchange, Galashiels (workshop session)
  • Thursday 28 September:       Burgh Hall, Peebles
  • Tuesday 3 October:                Heritage Hub, Hawick
  • Thursday 5 October:              Council Chamber, Duns
  • Tuesday 10 October:              Pop-up Shop, 1 Tower Street, Selkirk (drop-in session) and Community Connections, Back Row, Selkirk (workshop session)
  • Thursday 12 October:            Council Chamber, Newtown St. Boswells (workshop session only, 2pm-4pm)

The workshop sessions will accommodate up to 30 participants and will last about 2 hours.  Anyone wishing to attend, should let the council’s Forward Planning Team know either by email: localplan@scotborders.gov.uk or by letter to:  Forward Planning Team,  Scottish Borders Council,  Newtown St. Boswells,  Melrose,  TD6 0SA

If you want to make your views known on the future priorities for development in the Scottish Borders, here is your chance to get involved.

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.

Update on Draft Housing Supplementary Guidance (SG)

The Scottish Borders Local Development Plan (LDP) was adopted in May 2016.  However, the Reporters from the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals, who carried out the examination of the LDP concluded that there was a shortfall in housing land and that the Council should prepare and submit to Scottish Ministers, within 12 months of adoption of the LDP, Supplementary Guidance (SG) identifying additional sites to provide for a further 916 housing units. Following the production of a Draft Housing SG in December 2016, which has been the subject of public consultation, the Council has now approved the Supplementary Guidance on Housing for submission to the Scottish Ministers.

The Housing SG, approved by Scottish Borders Council on 24 August 2017, proposes the inclusion of the following sites, comprising 926 housing units, within the adopted LDP:

Berwickshire Housing Market Area

  • Land north of High Street, Ayton (6 units)
  • Hillview North (Phase 1), Coldstream (100 units)
  • Reston Long Term 2, Reston (38 units)

Central Housing Market Area

  • Lintburn Street, Galashiels (8 units)
  • Rose Court, Galashiels (12 units)
  • Former Castle Warehouse Site, Galashiels (30 units)
  • Leishman Place, Hawick (5 units)
  • Henderson Road, Hawick (6 units)
  • Factory – Fairhurst Drive, Hawick (10 units)
  • Tweed Court, Kelso (15 units)
  • Nethershot (Phase 2), Kelso (100 units)
  • Former High School Site, Kelso (50 units)
  • The Orchard, Newstead (6 units)
  • Angles Field, Selkirk (30 units)
  • Heather Mill, Selkirk (75 units)
  • Lowood, Tweedbank (300 units)

Northern Housing Market area

  • Caerlee Mill, Innerleithen (35 units)
  • Rosetta Road Mixed Use, Peebles (30 units)
  • March Street Mill, Peebles (70 units)

Once the Supplementary Guidance has been agreed by the Scottish Ministers, it will form part of the adopted LDP 2016.

 

Position Statement on Development Plan

Scottish Borders Council’s development plan sets out the council’s vision for development and transportation within the Scottish Borders.  The development plan currently consists of the Scottish Borders Local Development Plan (LDP), adopted in May 2016, commonly referred to as the Local Plan, and the Strategic Development Plan produced by SESplan, a partnership of the 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.

The Scottish Government Reporters who examined the Local Development Plan in 2015 proposed modifications that require an additional 916 housing units to be identified through supplementary guidance (SG).  As a result, the council published a Draft Housing SG for consultation in December 2016. The period for consultation has now closed and its officers are working through responses.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) is currently preparing a new Local Development Plan to replace the current LDP to guide future development within the Scottish Borders for the period 2021-2026.  SBC is at the very early stages of this process and is gathering evidence to produce the first document called the ‘Main Issues Report’ (MIR), which will focus on the key areas of change from the current LDP and will present a range of options for change.  A Call for Sites as part of the preparation of the MIR invites land owners, developers and agents to submit proposed development sites for consideration.  The period for submitting site proposals expired on 7 August 2017.  Once prepared, the MIR will be the subject of wide consultation before the council reaches a view on the way forward and prepares its Proposed Local Development Plan 2.

SESplan’s second Proposed Strategic Development Plan was submitted to Scottish Ministers in June 2017.  Outstanding issues raised through representations during consultation in October and November 2016 will be the subject of examination by a Reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers some time later this year.

Keep checking this website for updates on the council’s progress on the Draft Housing SG and the new Local Development Plan and on the progress of the second Proposed Strategic Development Plan.  Interesting times ahead!