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.

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!