Development Management: October 2018 update

During October 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received some 150 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  Amongst the applications submitted, perhaps the one to catch most public attention is the application by T.J. Morris Ltd (Home Bargains) for the change of use of the Homebase Store at Galalaw Business Park, Hawick to allow 30% of the floor space to be used for food retailing (SBC Ref: 18/01441/FUL).  The proposed development would create 50 full-time equivalent jobs compared with the 27 currently employed at the Homebase Store.  The application has already been welcomed by local councillors.  However, whilst the proposed development is likely to generate additional employment, it is unlikely to have any beneficial effect on the viability and vitality of Hawick town centre.  Also during October, an application was received for the demolition of the Armstrong’s (Almstrong’s) building, which once housed a valued department store on Oliver Crescent, and the erection of a replacement office building (SBR Refs: 18/01419/CON & 18/01420/FUL).  A perfect illustration of how the town centre is changing with the expansion of retailing on Commercial Road.

In Galashiels, an application has been received from Eildon Housing Association for further residential development, comprising 69 dwellinghouses, at Coopersknowe Crescent (SBC Ref: 18/01416/FUL).  The site lies on the western side of the Langshaw Road between the private housing development at Coopersknowe Crescent and the Langlee Industrial Estate and is comprised of the former Easter Langlee farm steading and surrounding agricultural land.  This application follows the submission of a Proposal of Application Notice in June 2018 and a programme of pre-application public consultation.  Objections to the proposal have already been submitted and it will be interesting to see how this development proposal is dealt with by the council.  Eildon Housing has also submitted a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) for the redevelopment of the Earlston High School site for residential development (SBC Ref: 18/01493/PAN).  It is proposed to hold a community engagement event sometime between the 15th and 30th November in Earlston Church Hall.  The subject will also be discussed at Earlston Community Council meeting on the 15th November.  Watch out for further news and the advertisement in the local press.

In Melrose, an application has now been received for the erection of 26 dwellinghouses on land at The Croft, Dingleton Road (SBC Ref: 18/01385/FUL).  The site is allocated for housing in the Local Development Plan with a capacity for 25 houses.  A Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) was submitted by the developer, Rural Renaissance Ltd, in January 2018, and a public exhibition of the proposed development was held in Melrose Rugby Club (SBC Ref: 18/00016/PAN).  This site has a long history of planning proposals and, as predicted, this proposal has attracted a great deal of attention amongst the population of Melrose.  Particular concerns relate to the suitability of Dingleton Road to accept traffic from additional housing development and to the impact of any development on the character and landscape value of the Eildon Hills.  Objections have already been submitted and this application will no doubt be another test for the Planning and Building Standards Committee.

In Tweeddale, a re-application has been submitted by Border Mix for the erection of a storage and distribution building and an ancillary dwellinghouse on a site north east of the Old Creamery outside Dolphinton (SBC Ref: 18/01377/FUL).  A similar application was refused by the Planning and Building Standards Committee in August 2017 (SBC Ref: 17/00087/FUL).  Refusal was primarily based on the absence of an overriding economic and/or operational need.  Further information has now been produced to show that, given the absence of other suitable sites within the market area, the Dolphinton site remains the only viable option to accommodate the relocation of Border Mix from the present site, which is within an established residential area in Dolphinton.  Another application for the Planning and Building Standards Committee.

In Tweeddale, an application has also been submitted by the Tweedsmuir Community Company for alterations to the Crook Inn Hotel, Tweedsmuir, the change of use and alterations to an outbuilding to a café and office, the erection of a bunkhouse and a biomass boiler building (SBC Ref: 18/01342/FUL).  A very welcome proposal for this historic hostelry, which has lain empty and decaying for a number of years.

In Berwickshire, an interesting proposal in Eyemouth involves the demolition of the existing boatyard buildings and their replacement (SBC Refs: 18/01374/CON & 18/01372/FUL).  Boat building and repair has taken place on this site for almost 200 years.  Boat building no longer takes place in the yard and the decline in the fishing industry has seen the yard struggle to remain profitable.  The existing slipways do not have the height to accommodate the largest fishing vessels under cover and they have to be worked on outside, which limits certain work to the summer months when the boats are most active.  Redevelopment of the yard will raise the height of the three sheds on the site to allow the maintenance and painting of vessels indoors and at all times of year.

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.

At its meeting on 1 October, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the erection of 57 dwellinghouses on the north side of Main Street, East End, Chirnside (SBC Ref: 18/00147/FUL).  The proposed development will comprise 100% affordable housing.  At its meeting on 10 October, the Local Review Body (LRB) reversed two decisions of its Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for: (1) the erection of two glamping units for holiday let on land at Flatt Farm, Newcastleton (SBC Ref: 18/00686/FUL); and (2) the change of use of steading, alterations and extension to form a dwellinghouse at Billerwell Farm, Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/00745/FUL).  In the first case, the LRB supported the proposals which represented an expansion of an existing farm diversification business based on tourism.  In the second case, the LRB, on a vote of 5 members to 4 members, considered that the amended design for the proposed dwellinghouse was acceptable.  The LRB did, however, support the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission in respect of the installation of replacement windows at 41 North Hermitage Street, Newcastleton (SBC Ref: 18/01039/FUL).  Members did not consider that the proposed uPVC top-hung windows were acceptable in Newcastleton Conservation Area.

During October, some 100 applications were dealt with by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Only one application was refused: an application for the replacement of shop front windows and door screens at Scott’s View Take-away, Main Street, St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 18/01010/FUL).  The existing uPVC shop front, which replaced a timber shop front, is the subject of enforcement action.  The current proposal seeks to replace the uPVC shop front with a timber frame painted white whilst the door and side panel would remain uPVC.  The Chief Planning Officer considers that, at this location within a conservation area, the whole of the shop front should be timber framed with a traditional timber door.

In Berwickshire, planning permissions have now been issued for the erection of a total of 75 dwellinghouses on land north-west of Springfield Avenue (SBC Ref: 17/00993/FUL & 18/00994/FUL).  Planning permission was granted in February 2018 subject to a section 75 agreement requiring the provision of a footpath link between the development site and Bridgend Place.  This agreement has now been finalised.  In Tweeddale, planning permission was granted for the development of up to 15 dwellinghouses on land south-west and south-east of Bowbank Cottages, Bellfield Road, Eddleston, subject to the improvement of the private road, which currently serves the site, up to adoptable standards and the improvement of the junction of Bellfield Road and the A703 (SBC Ref: 17/00767/PPP).

During October, the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) reached a decision on the appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a residential development at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 16/01360/PPP) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).  The Reporter in this case decided to allow the appeal and grant planning permission in principle subject to 11 conditions and to a planning obligation under section 75 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 in order to secure a contribution towards affordable housing.  In deciding to allow the appeal, the Reporter, on the basis of the housing land supply information submitted, considered that there was a shortfall in the requirement to maintain a five year effective housing land supply at all times and concluded that there were strong reasons why an exceptional approval should be granted.  Questions will be asked as to how the council carries out its audit of housing land and calculates the supply of effective housing land.  No doubt, these issues will to the fore in the review of the local development plan.

An appeal was submitted to the DPEA on 9 October against the serving of an enforcement notice by the council alleging that the use of land south and east of the property ‘Oaklands’ in Ednam village, near Kelso has been changed from agricultural land to garden ground without planning permission and that a variety of domestic structures have been erected/placed on the land (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2012).  Interested members of the public are entitled to make representations on the appeal until 6 November.

An appeal against the council’s refusal to issue a Certificate of Lawful Use of a property used in the past as a guest house, as a dwellinghouse, at Camptown, south of Jedburgh  remains to be determined (SBC Ref: 18/00849/CLEU) (DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2002).  Three appeals remain to be determined against the refusal of planning permission: (1) 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); (2) for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (3) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062).

The hearing session in connection with the application by Eildon Housing Association for residential development at Huddersfield Street, Galashiels, which was called-in for determination by Scottish Ministers in view of the possible flood risk (SBC Ref: 17/00695/FUL) (DPEA Ref: NA-SBD-054) was held on Wednesday 15 August in the Waverley Suite at the Transport Interchange, Galashiels.  The Reporter’s report and recommendations have been submitted to Scottish Ministers for their decision.

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).  The Reporter’s reports in relation to these three applications have been submitted to Scottish Ministers and their decision is awaited.

 

Development Management: August 2018 update

During August 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received 121 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  Two applications for residential development in Peebles have already generated a number of objections/comments from neighbouring residents; the erection of two blocks of flats comprising 40 residential units at Tweedbridge Court (SBC Ref: 18/01086/FUL) and the erection of 71 dwellinghouses on land south of the South Park Industrial Estate (SBC Ref: 18/01026/FUL).

The proposal for affordable housing by Eildon Housing Association at Tweedbridge Court occupies the site of the former Blackwood Housing sheltered housing scheme.  The proposal to erect two four-storey blocks of flats on the banks of the Tweed is causing some concern about the impact of the development on the iconic view from the Tweed Bridge.  Watch this space.

The site of the proposed 71 dwellinghouses by Persimmon Homes is allocated for 50 residential units in the local development plan.  It was the subject of a Proposal of Application Notice in April 2017 (SBC Ref: 17/00587/PAN).  No details of the proposal were submitted with the PAN, which intimated that details of the proposed development would be available at a forthcoming public consultation event but no date, time or location for the event was provided.  The pre-application consultation event proposed in the PAN did not take place until 10 July 2018 (publicised in the Peeblesshire News on 29 June 2018) more than a year after the submission of the PAN.  The subsequent planning application was submitted on 6 August 2018.  A number of concerns have already been raised by the local community, in particular, to the increased number of houses proposed and the suitability of Tweed Bridge and Caledonian Road to accept any further housing in this area south of the river.

This application is a perfect illustration of the uncertainties surrounding the Proposal of Application Notice procedure for large-scale developments.  As related in my March 2018 Development Management update, according to the Scottish Government’s Planning Circular 3/2013 on Development Management Procedures, 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 Scottish Government wishes 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 purpose of pre-application consultation is, therefore, to improve the quality of applications, mitigate negative impacts where possible, address misunderstandings, and air and deal with any community issues that can be tackled so that the proposals benefit from that engagement and assist the efficient consideration of applications once submitted.

However, as in this case, some applicants are somewhat reticent in providing all the information required by the Regulations and PANs fail to specify when and where the required public event is to take place but leave it flexible.  A notice of the proposed public event must also be published in a local newspaper circulating in the locality at least 7 days before the holding of the public event and, as in this instance, this was the first intimation of the precise date, time and location, of the proposed public event.  Consequently, one has to question whether the public have had sufficient opportunity to engage with the developer and also the extent to which community views have been taken into account in framing the proposals when the planning application was submitted less than a month after the public event.

No doubt, both these proposals will figure on a future agenda of the Council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee.  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.

There were no meetings of the Planning and Buildings Standards Committee or the Local Review Body in August but some 114 applications were dealt with by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Seven applications were refused; six applications for planning permission and a retrospective advertisement application:

  • Erection of two dwellinghouses at Stainie Brae, Lower Greenhill, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 18/00832/PPP);
  • Erection of dwellinghouse at Ladywood, Lower Greenhill, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 00929/PPP);
  • Change of use of a shop to a mortgage advisers at 37 Bank Street, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 00764/FUL);
  • Change of use and alterations of a steading to form a dwellinghouse at Billerwell Farm, Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/00745/FUL);
  • Alterations and extensions to the property ‘Rockmount’ at Mountain Cross, Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 18/00711/FUL); and
  • Siting of a cabin for holiday let on land at Meadshaw Farmhouse, Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/00724/FUL).
  • Advanced sign for Woll Golf Course at main crossroads in Ashkirk village (SBC Ref: 18/00916/ADV);

Although the Planning and Buildings Standards Committee agreed on 16 July to the relaxation of its Town Centre Core Activity Area Policy as it applies to Galashiels for a period of one year (see post on ‘Town Centre Policy: Amendments to practice for processing planning applications, July 2018’), the Chief Planning Officer decided on 2 August 2018 that the change of use of 37 Bank Street from a shop to a mortgage advisers was not permissible under the Pilot Scheme because it offered an inactive frontage and low footfall.  An appeal to the Local Review Body would make for an interesting discussion.

In relation to appeals received by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA), it is worth pointing out (because such appeals are relatively scarce) that an appeal was submitted on 13 August against the refusal of works to trees at Glenkinnon Wood in the Tweed Valley near Peel, Clovenfords (DPEA Ref: TWC-140-1; BRC Ref: 18/0621/TPO).  Tree works applications make up a significant proportion of applications to the Planning Department and this may not be the first refusal of Tree Works Consent issued by the Chief Planning Officer but it certainly was the first Tree Works Consent appeal in the Scottish Borders.  However, I shall not be able to report on its outcome for the appeal was quickly withdrawn on 23 August, ten days after it was submitted!

During August, the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) reached a decision on the appeal against 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).  Much to the ire of the local community, this appeal has been upheld and planning permission has been granted subject to 35 conditions.  In granting planning permission, the Reporter concluded that, although the proposed development would have localised and limited impacts on landscape and visual amenity and on archaeological assets, cumulative visual impacts would not be sufficient to reject the proposal.  He also considered that whilst there would be impacts on the amenity of nearby residential properties, these would not be to an extent which would breach the test which has been applied by Scottish Ministers in a similar case.  He was not persuaded by the evidence relating to the adverse effects of the development on tourism in this part of the Borders or specific tourism businesses.  He considered that other potential impacts could be appropriately managed through planning conditions and other control regimes.  In relation to the campaign for a Scottish Borders National Park, he attached little weight to this possible development, which is in the very early stages of investigation.

Five other appeals remain to be decided by the DPEA: one appeal is against the imposition of two conditions to a planning permission, granted by the council on 26 March 2018, for the erection of two wind turbines on land at No. 6 Lamberton Holdings in Berwickshire.  The appealed conditions relate to the requirement to decommission and remove the turbines within 25 years (SBC Ref: 17/01348/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2071).  The site inspection is programmed for the 12 September 2018.

Four appeals remain to be determined against the refusal of planning permission: (1) 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); (2) for the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (3) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); and (4) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).

The hearing session in connection with the application by Eildon Housing Association for residential development at Huddersfield Street, Galashiels, which was called-in for determination by Scottish Ministers in view of the possible flood risk (SBC Ref: 17/00695/FUL) (DPEA Ref: NA-SBD-054) was held on Wednesday 15 August in the Waverley Suite at the Transport Interchange, Galashiels.

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).  The Reporter’s reports in relation to the two Fallago Rig applications have been submitted to Scottish Ministers and their decision is awaited.  The Reporter dealing with the Birneyknowe wind farm application hopes to be in a position to submit his report to Ministers during September.

 

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.

 

Development Planning: New Year 2018

At the end of 2017, Scottish Borders Council approved Supplementary Guidance and a Simplified Planning Zone Scheme for the Central Borders Business Park at Tweedbank.  The purpose of the Supplementary Guidance is to provide a framework for the future development of sites within the Central Borders Business Park, which includes Tweedbank Industrial Estate, Tweedside Business Park (to the north of Tweedbank Drive) and land between Tweedside Business Park and Tweedbank Train Station.  The purpose of the Simplified Planning Zone (SPZ) is to allow development to take place within the Central Borders Business Park without the need for planning permission so long as it complies with certain parameters and conditions.

It is the council’s view that the arrival of the Borders Railway offers a significant opportunity to capitalise on the existing industrial park and provide a supply of high quality business and industrial land to serve the Central Borders.  It is proposed that the current industrial park will be redeveloped with the refurbishment and reconfiguration of existing buildings to provide twenty-first century manufacturing and office facilities.  It will be marketed as the Borders Innovation Park.  The Supplementary Guidance indicates how sites could be developed, identifies opportunities, highlights potential constraints and encourages high quality design and layout.  The SPZ effectively grants planning permission in advance for specific types of development within defined areas.  Within specified areas of the Central Borders Business Park the permitted uses include business, general industrial, storage/distribution, hotel and limited retail floor space uses.  Developments that fall outwith the scope of the SPZ would require planning permission in the normal way.  All proposals would require Building Standards approval but procedures allow for the fast-tracking of building warrant applications relating to inward investment proposals.  The SPZ, therefore, offers scope to change the use of premises, build new premises and/or alter and extend existing buildings without the need for a formal planning application subject to compliance with the detailed parameters and conditions detailed in the document.

The Council approved the Supplementary Guidance and the Simplified Planning Zone Scheme on 30 November 2017 for submission to the Scottish Ministers for approval.  Once approved by the Scottish Ministers, the Supplementary Guidance would formally become part of the Adopted Local Development Plan 2016.

As part of the Borders Railway Blueprint programme, masterplans for Tweedbank and Galashiels commissioned from independent consultants were presented to the Scottish Borders Council on 25 January 2018.  These masterplans present a number of proposals to attract inward investment through both public and private sector funding and encourage people to work, live and visit the Borders.  The Masterplan for Tweedbank, prepared by Proctor Matthews Architects, incorporates land on the Lowood Estate between the railway line and the River Tweed.  This area of approximately 34 hectares is identified for a mix of residential and business development in the Adopted Local Development Plan 2016, as amended by the Housing Supplementary Guidance, approved by Scottish Ministers on 9 November 2017.  The Tweedbank Masterplan, as well as identifying the potential for some 300 houses and land for new business development at Lowood, also highlights the opportunity to create a new square at the train station with cafes, offices and apartments.  It is expected that this initiative, together with increased car parking provision, will reinforce Tweedbank as a hub for visitors arriving by train to explore the surrounding tourist attractions and countryside of the Borders.  The Tweedbank Masterplan will be taken forward in the Local Development Plan 2, which is in the course of preparation and will replace the adopted local development plan.

At the same meeting, the council also discussed an outline masterplan for the future regeneration of the centre of Galashiels.  The masterplan, prepared by Stallan Brand Architects, provides a vision for the future of the town centre and demonstrates how the area could be developed to maximise the full economic potential of the Borders Railway.  It focusses on the delivery of residential, retail and business space to help regenerate the town centre, with the opening of the Great Tapestry of Scotland Visitor Centre as the catalyst for further projects.  The masterplan highlights the potential opportunities for development and improvement of six zones within the town centre: Stirling Street; Channel Street/Market Square; Overhaugh Street; Bridge Street; Sime Place and Park Street; and an area alongside the Gala Water stretching from Buckholmside to Langhaugh and alongside the Mill Lade from Bank Street to Roxburgh Street.

The masterplan reviews eight potential sites for a hotel in the town centre without reaching any conclusion as to the most appropriate and feasible site.  It also includes a proposal for the extension of Market Square between Channel Street and Overhaugh Street into a larger and more flexible events and activities space.  Consultations on the masterplan have been held with the community and local businesses, arts and tourism organisations and councillors agreed that the masterplan proposals should be taken into account in the preparation of the Local Development Plan 2.

The preparation of Local Development Plan 2 is progressing.  According to the council’s Development Plan Scheme November 2017, the next stage in the process is the preparation of a Main Issues Report (MIR), which will focus on the key areas of change from the adopted local development plan and will present a range of development options for comment and discussion. The publication of this document is a key stage in terms of public consultation as it is from the views and comments expressed on the development options in the MIR that the council will decide on the way forward.  The formal consultation on the MIR is planned for the summer of this year (2018) so keep an eye out for the announcements that will emanate from the council publicising the publication of this document and the opportunities to submit representations on the various development options.

This post on development planning in the Scottish Borders would not be complete without a tribute to John Crawford, known to many as ‘Choppy’, who died on 3 February 2018.  John, a Melrosian through and through, was the driving force behind house-builders, J. S. Crawford, for fifty years.  He took over from his father Jim, who founded the company in 1946, in 1963 and built the firm into the largest construction company in the Scottish Borders and the largest private house builder before the volume house builders moved in during the 1990s.  Throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Crawford Builders built houses in almost every town and village in the Central Borders, from Kelso to Hawick and from Jedburgh to Melrose, Galashiels and Selkirk.  John was an astute businessman and I remember well the challenges he presented to the Borders Regional Council’s Planning and Development Department. We did not always see eye-to-eye but John was always a fair adversary.  He will be sadly missed and my sincere condolences go to his wife and family.

 

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.

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.