Development Management: Christmas 2018 update

In relation to planning applications submitted, 2018 has ended relatively quietly.  During December 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received less than 100 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  There were no obvious contentious applications.  During the same period, some 70 planning applications have been determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers, only two of which were refused: (1) an application to reinstate two windows in lieu of air conditioning units at Deans Bar, Orrock Place, Hawick (SBC Ref: 17/01368/FUL); and (2) an application for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Lamberton in Berwickshire.

On the 10 December, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the variation of condition 1 attached to planning consent 13/00789/FUL for the Braidlie Wind Farm, near the Hermitage Valley south of Hawick (SBC Ref: 18/01251/FUL).  The effect of the variation is to extend the time limit for initiating the development to three years from the date of the new permission (10 December 2018) rather than the date of the original permission (June 2016).  The planning application to vary conditions 1, 3, 4 & 14 of planning permission 13/00789/FUL remains to be determined.  This application (SBC Ref: 18/01456/FUL), as well as requesting an extension of time to initiate development, also requests an increase of the micro-siting allowance from 50m to 100m, an increase in tip height of six of the turbines to 149.9m and also requests a relaxation to allow the development to commence prior to the approval of the required ATC Radar Mitigation Scheme. The Braidlie Wind Farm was granted planning permission on appeal by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) in June 2016.  It will interesting to see the attitude of the Planning and Building Standards Committee to these proposed deviations from the plans approved by Scottish Ministers.

On the 10 December, the Planning and Building Standards Committee also granted planning permission for the erection of 38 dwellinghouses on a site at Thirlstane Drive, Lauder, much to the consternation of the Lauderdale Community Council and a number of neighbour objectors (SBC Ref: 18/00792/FUL).  The planning application for the erection of 64 dwellinghouses on land north of Sergeants Park, Newtown St. Boswells was, however, continued until the next meeting to allow officers to examine the infrastructure capacity issues and how the proposed development would site within the wider master plan for the Newtown Expansion Area (SBC Ref: 18/00486/FUL).

It will be 2019 before two other contentious applications appear on the agenda of the Planning and Building Standards Committee: (1) the application for a mixed use development including a hotel, restaurant with drive-thru facility, food retail store and petrol filling station with shop on a site at Tweedbank Industrial Estate (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL); and (2) the proposal by Rural Renaissance Ltd for 26 dwellinghouses on land at The Croft, Dingleton Road, Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/01385/FUL).

Back to the recurring issue of wind farms; another interesting application for the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee to determine will be the application by Energiekontor to vary conditions 2 & 4 of planning consent 17/00010/FUL for the Pines Burn Wind Farm sited south-west of Bonchester Bridge, which was granted planning permission on appeal by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) in August 2018.  This application (SBC Ref: 18/01443/FUL) requests that the micro-siting distance for turbines from the position shown on the approved plans be increased to 100m and that the tip height of five of the turbines be increased to 149.9m.  Having refused planning permission for the development, it will be interesting to see the attitude of the Planning and Building Standards Committee to these proposed deviations from the plans approved by Scottish Ministers.

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 17 December, the Local Review Body (LRB) upheld the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission 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 LRB agreed that the proposed UPVC door and side panels would be harmful to the character and appearance of the St. Boswells Conservation Area by reason of their design and materials proposed.  In relation to the planning application for alterations and extension to the dwellinghouse ‘Elsielea’ at 61 West High Street, Lauder, the LRB determined to vary the planning permission granted by the Chief Planning Officer by deleting condition 2 of the consent 18/00580/FUL, which required the submission of amended drawings of the proposed garage/workshop showing the mono-pitched roof reversed.  The LRB was content with the proposed design.

During December, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) dismissed the appeal against the council’s refusal to issue a Certificate of Lawful Use, as a dwellinghouse, of a property used in the past as a guest house at Camptown, south of Jedburgh. (SBC Ref: 18/00849/CLEU) (DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2002).

As indicated in the November update, appeals have been submitted in relation to the non-determination of the planning applications for the redevelopment of the March Street Mills site in Peebles for residential units (SBC Ref: 17/00063/PPP & 17/00064/CON).  At the meeting on 10 December, the Planning and Building Standards Committee responded to the appeals to the effect that, had they not been lodged, the Committee would have refused the planning application on the grounds of retaining the allotments [which it is proposed to relocate to another part of the site] in their current position, and refused the application for conservation area consent on the grounds that there was no appropriate redevelopment proposals in place for the buildings to be demolished.

An appeal has been submitted against the serving of an Amenity Notice for the removal of two shed structures, a van and various items from land west of Gallowberry Bank, Blyth Bridge, near West Linton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV; DPEA Ref: ANAA-140-2001).  An appeal has also been submitted against the serving of an enforcement notice alleging the use of the property ‘Greenloaning’ on The Loan, West Linton for short stay visitor accommodation (SBC Ref: 18/00074/UNUSE; DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2013).

Two appeals against the refusal of planning permission remain to be determined: (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 construction of a wind farm comprising 7 turbines up to 132 metres high to tip height on land at Barrel Law, north west of Roberton (SBC Ref: 17/01255/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072).  The appeal against the refusal of Tree Works Consent for the removal of a mature copper beech tree at 22 Craigmyle Park, Clovenfords, near Galashiels also remains to be determined (SBC Ref: 18/01057/TPO) (DPEA Ref: TWCA-140-2).

An appeal 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 (SBC Ref: 17/00131/UNDEV) (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2012) remains to be determined.

The Reporter’s report and recommendations have been submitted to Scottish Ministers for their decision 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).

Until just before Christmas, three wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has objected, remained 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 were submitted to Scottish Ministers in July and their decision on these applications is awaited.  However, on 21 December, Scottish Ministers decided, after a public inquiry, to refuse the application for consent for the Birneyknowe Wind Farm.  Scottish Ministers agreed with the Reporter’s findings that the wind farm would not preserve natural beauty and would be in conflict with important aspects of Scottish Planning Policy, and that the benefits of the proposal in relation to the support for renewable energy development at national level did not outweigh these concerns.  The local community, and no doubt Scottish Borders Council, will be delighted with this Christmas present.  Is the tide turning?

 

Development Management: November 2018 update

During November 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received some 130 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  Undoubtedly, the application which will catch most public attention is the application for a mixed use development including a hotel, restaurant with drive-thru facility, food retail store and petrol filling station with shop on a site at Tweedbank Industrial Estate (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL).  The site was previously acquired by B&Q but the planning application for a warehouse was never determined and was eventually withdrawn.  A supporting statement explains that the proposed “Borders Gateway” development includes a BP Filling Station and M&S Food Kiosk, Costa Coffee Drive Thru, Premier Inn with 71 beds and a discount food retail unit with 108 car spaces.  The site forms part of a much larger area zoned as a strategically important employment area and is outwith the area adjacent to the train station zoned for mixed uses in the local development plan, which has been suggested as a possible site for a hotel.  Whilst some organisations have welcomed the proposals, concerns have already been expressed by Galashiels Community Council about the effect of such a development on Galashiels town centre and on the prospects for a new hotel in Galashiels, for which a number of possible alternative sites have been identified.  With consultations on the new local development plan (LDP2) on-going, a decision on this application is likely to take some time and is likely to be controversial, whichever way it goes.  I am looking forward to hearing the debate when the matter, eventually, comes before the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee for determination!

Elsewhere, opposition is mounting in Melrose to the proposal by Rural Renaissance Ltd for 26 dwellinghouses on land at The Croft, Dingleton Road (SBC Ref: 18/01385/FUL).  As predicted, this proposal has attracted a great deal of attention amongst the population of Melrose and almost 60 objections have been received.  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.  This application will no doubt be another test for the Planning and Building Standards Committee.

Eildon Housing submitted a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) for the redevelopment of the Earlston High School site for residential development on the 25 October (SBC Ref: 18/01493/PAN).  The community engagement event proposed for some time between the 15th and 30th November in Earlston Church Hall, is now to be held on 6 December (between 5.00pm and 8.00pm).

In Kelso, a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) has been submitted by local builders M & J Ballantyne for alterations and conversion of the former Kelso High School to form extra care housing and the erection of private housing within the grounds (SBC Ref: 18/01574/PAN).  A public drop-in event was held on 22 November in the Assembly Room at the High School.  Any subsequent planning application cannot be submitted before 1 February 2019 and a pre-application consultation report will need to accompany the application detailing the results of the pre-application consultations, including the public event.

Back to the recurring issue of wind farms; another interesting application for the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee will be the application by Energiekontor to vary conditions 2 & 4 of planning consent 17/00010/FUL for the Pines Burn Wind Farm sited south-west of Bonchester Bridge, which was granted planning permission on appeal by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) in August 2018.  This application (SBC Ref: 18/01443/FUL) requests that the micro-siting distance for turbines from the position shown on the approved plans be increased to 100m and that the tip height of five of the turbines be increased to 149.9m.  Having refused planning permission for the development, it will be interesting to see the attitude of the Planning and Building Standards Committee to these proposed deviations from the plans approved by Scottish Ministers.

Another wind farm case that will require to be considered by the Planning and Building Standards Committee is the application by Energiekontor to vary conditions 1, 3, 4 & 14 of planning permission 13/00789/FUL for the Braidlie Wind Farm, near the Hermitage Valley south of Hawick, which was also granted planning permission on appeal by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division in June 2016.  This application (SBC Ref: 18/01456/FUL) requests an extension of time to initiate development, an increase of the micro-siting allowance from 50m to 100m, an increase in tip height of six of the turbines to 149.9m and also requests a relaxation to allow the development to commence prior to the approval of the required ATC Radar Mitigation Scheme. Again, it will interesting to see the attitude of the Planning and Building Standards Committee to these proposed deviations from the plans approved by Scottish Ministers.

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.

During November, some 130 applications have been determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers, ten of which have been refused planning permission.  Perhaps the most contentious is the application for the change of use of the Redburn Garage, located in a prominent position on the Peebles Road on the outskirts of Galashiels, to joiner’s workshop and showroom, caravan repairs and sales, car valet, retail and the siting of a catering unit (SBC Ref: 18/00723/FUL).  This is a retrospective application for the former Bruce Motors Garage and Showroom which has been in use for above uses for some time.  Whilst the Chief Planning Officer considered that some aspects of the development are acceptable, the application has been refused because of the retail and joiner’s workshop element of the development.

Elsewhere planning permission has been refused for: (i) the erection of a dwellinghouse on land at Tarf House, West Linton (SBC Ref: 18/01341/PPP); (ii) the erection of two dwellinghouses at Croupyett, Ancrum (SBC Ref: 18/01177/PPP); (iii) the erection of an extension to a dwellinghouse at Townhead Way, Newstead (SBC Ref: 18/01215/FUL); (iv) the erection of a storage shed at 17 Leithen Road, Innerleithen (SBC Ref: 18/01116/FUL); (v) the erection of 7 additional workshop units, including one to be used as a dog day-care facility together with exercise area at Farknowes, Langshaw Road, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/01229/FUL); (vi) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Old Graden, Kelso (SBC Ref: 18/01252/PPP); (vii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Linthill, Lilliesleaf, by Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/01332/PPP); (viii) the erection of a dwellinghouse on Eddy Road, Newstead, Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/01060/FUL; and (ix) the change of use of the Mansfield Bar on Mansfield Road in Hawick to a residential flat (SBC Ref: 18/01330/FUL).  Since it seems to be the practice for applicants who are refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers to appeal the decision, the council’s Local Review Body is going to be busy in the coming months.

At its meeting on 5 November, the Planning and Building Standards Committee decided to continue consideration, pending a site visit, of the application for the redevelopment of the March Street Mills site in Peebles for residential units (SBC Ref: 17/00063/PPP).  This proposal, submitted almost two years ago after extensive pre-application consultation, has generated considerable opposition from Peebles residents and a wide range of other local organisations.  At the time of writing, the agent for the developer, Moorbrook Textiles Ltd, has intimated that they are not prepared to wait any longer for a decision from the council and have decided to submit an appeal to the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) against the non-determination of the application.  It is interesting to see that in submitting the appeal rather than wait for a decision from the Planning and Building Standards Committee, the agents for the applicants indicate that the decision to appeal: “has been driven by the understanding of the appellant that the key determining issues and planning balance……are highly complex and emotive, such that they consider that placing the decision making in the hands of a Reporter acting on behalf of Scottish Ministers to be the appropriate action”.  Watch this space!

At its meeting on 19 November, the Local Review Body (LRB) reversed two decisions of its Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for: (1) the erection of a dwellinghouse on land at Ladywood, Lower Greenhill, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 18/00929/PPP); and (2) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Chapel Cottage, Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/00644/PPP).  The LRB did support the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission in respect of the erection of a further two dwellinghouses at Lower Greenhill, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 18/00832/PPP) and to refuse planning permission for the change of use of part of Unit 8 at Tweedside Park, Tweedbank (the former Plexus Facility) to form a gymnasium, children’s soft play area and associated café. (SBC Ref: 18/00635/FUL).  In this case, the LRB considered that the loss of business space, although limited, would undermine the aims of the council’s recently approved Supplementary Guidance for the Central Borders (Tweedbank) Business Park.  Will this decision have any impact in relation to the more recent proposal on the Tweedbank Industrial Estate referred to above!

During November, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) reached decisions on the appeals against the refusal of planning permission for: (1) the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 17/00623/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); and (2) the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (SBC Ref: 16/01377/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062).  In both cases, the Reporter appointed to determine the appeal, reversed the decision of the council and granted planning permission for the proposals.  One appeal against the refusal of planning permission remains to be determined: 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).

The Reporter’s report and recommendations have been submitted to Scottish Ministers for their decision 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).

The appeal 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 (SBC Ref: 17/00131/UNDEV) (DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2012) remains to be determined.  The site inspection has been arranged for 6 December.  The appeal against the council’s refusal to issue a Certificate of Lawful Use, as a dwellinghouse, of a property used in the past as a guest house at Camptown, south of Jedburgh also remains to be determined.(SBC Ref: 18/00849/CLEU) (DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2002).

Two new appeals have been submitted to the DPEA.  As expected an appeal has been submitted against the decision of the Planning and Building Standards Committee, at its meeting on 3 September, to refuse planning permission against the Chief Planning Officer’s recommendation, for the construction of a wind farm comprising 7 turbines up to 132 metres high to tip height on land at Barrel Law, north west of Roberton (SBC Ref: 17/01255/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072).  This is a revised proposal, following the withdrawal of concerns expressed by the Ministry of Defence over possible interference with radar at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria and seismic monitoring at Eskdalemuir, near Langholm.  However, although the Chief Planning Officer recommended approval, the Committee decided on a vote of 5 votes to 2 to refuse the application on the grounds that the proposal would have significant and adverse impacts and effects on the landscape.  Representations on the appeal will be accepted by the DPEA until 21 December.

Whereas appeals against the refusal of planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer are referred to the council’s Local Review Body (LRB) for determination, appeals against the refusal of consent for works to trees by the council’s Tree Officer are a matter for the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA).  The council’s LRB has no locus in the matter (see my post on ‘Trees, woodlands and hedges’).  Although the council deals with over 100 tree works applications per year, very few are refused consent and appeals to the DPEA are rare.  In fact, only two such appeals appear on the DPEA website, one of which was withdrawn shortly after submission.  The second appeal, submitted on 15 November, relates to the refusal of Tree Works Consent for the removal of a mature copper beech tree at 22 Craigmyle Park, Clovenfords, near Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/01057/TPO) (DPEA Ref: TWCA-140-2).  The appeal will be determined by a Reporter appointed by the DPEA through consideration of the written submissions from the council and the appellant and a site inspection.

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: September 2018 update

During September 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received over 150 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  There seems to be no end to the desire of wind farm operators to expand the number of wind turbines in the Scottish Borders; another wind farm proposal has been submitted for the Moorfoot Hills.  A Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) was submitted on 6 September for a wind farm of up to 9 turbines with tip heights up to 150 metres at Wull Muir, north of Carcant Lodge, near Heriot (SBC Ref: 18/01164/PAN).  An application for a Scoping Opinion on the same proposal was received on 24 September (SBC Ref: 18/01308/SCO).  In this case, the applicant has voluntarily decided to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to the submission of an application and has formally requested the opinion of Scottish Borders Council on the Scoping Report, which sets out the matters that should be included in an EIA.  The Scoping Report provides an outline of the environmental receptors that the developer considers may be significantly affected by the proposed development and the application for a Scoping Opinion invites comments on the scope of the proposed EIA.

Bearing in mind the attitude of the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee on the recent proposal for a wind farm at Gilston Farm, Heriot and to other proposed wind farms in the area, the Wull Muir proposal is unlikely to be received with much enthusiasm.  No doubt the proposal 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.

Whilst on the subject of wind farms, it will come as no surprise to see that the Planning and Building Standards Committee, at its meeting on 3 September, refused planning permission, against the Chief Planning Officer’s recommendation, for the construction of a wind farm comprising 7 turbines up to 132 metres high to tip height on land at Barrel Law, north west of Roberton (SBC Ref: 17/01255/FUL).  This was a revised proposal, following the withdrawal of concerns expressed by the Ministry of Defence over possible interference with radar at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria and seismic monitoring at Eskdalemuir, near Langholm.  However, although the Chief Planning Officer recommended approval, the Committee decided on a vote of 5 votes to 2 to refuse the application on the grounds that the proposal would have significant and adverse impacts and effects on the landscape.  Is another appeal to the Scottish Government likely?

On the subject of wind farm appeals, official figures from the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division show that, over the past 16 years, 250 wind turbine applications refused by Scottish Councils have been the subject of appeals to Scottish Ministers.  Of these 250 appeals, 104 (41.6%) were successful and planning permission was granted.  In the Scottish Borders, 9 of the 21 appeals dealt with were successful.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee at its meeting on 3 September granted listed building consent for the demolition of St. Aidan’s Church and Church Hall in Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/00309/LBC).  Planning permission and listed building consent had been granted in October 2015 for the demolition of the church hall and the conversion of the church into eleven flats.  However, it was submitted that the repair and conversion of the church is not economically viable, the property has been marketed with no serious interest from prospective purchasers.  Unfortunately, it would appear that demolition and redevelopment is the only alternative!

At its meeting on 17 September, the Local Review Body (LRB) overturned the decision of its Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the change of use of 37 Bank Street, Galashiels from a shop to a mortgage advisers (SBC Ref: 18/00764/FUL; 18/00018/RREF).  The Chief Planning Officer had determined that the change of use was not permissible under the council’s recently approved Pilot Scheme because it offered an inactive frontage and low footfall.  The LRB considered that although the proposed use did not fall within the range of uses identified in the Pilot Scheme, the proposed business would complement other uses in Bank Street and would make a significant positive contribution to the viability of the town centre.  The Local Review Body also overturned the Chief Planning Officers decision to refuse planning permission for the change of use of 52 Bank Street, Galashiels to a tattoo studio (SBC Ref: 18/00398/FUL; 18/00020/RREF).  The LRB considered that, whilst the tattoo studio did not fall within the extended acceptable use categories listed in the Pilot Scheme, policy Ed4 of the approved LDP allows other uses where they make a demonstrable contribution to the retail function of the town centre.  In this instance, the LRB was satisfied that it had been demonstrated that the business would make a significant positive contribution to the town centre and that a sufficiently persuasive case had been made to allow the business.  It will be interesting to see how many more proposals for the change of use of retail premises to other uses come forward in the Galashiels Core Retail Activity Area and whether there is any significant measurable change in footfall or a reduction in vacancy rates as a result.

During September, some 100 applications were dealt with by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  In Berwickshire, planning permission was granted for the erection of 27 affordable dwellinghouses on a site off Station Road, Duns (SBC Ref: 18/00337/FUL) and for the erection of 25 dwellinghouses, a new village hall and formation of playing field on land south and west of Swinton Primary School (SBC Ref: 12/01488/PPP).  Three planning applications were refused: (1) an application for replacement windows on a property in North Hermitage Street, Newcastleton (SBC Ref: 18/00211/FUL); (2) an application for an isolated house in the countryside, near Chapel Farm, between Midlem and Lilliesleaf (SBC Ref: 18/00956/FUL); and (3) an application for a dwellinghouse on a site east of Keleden, Ednam (SBC Ref: [the Local Review Body granted planning permission in principle for a dwellinghouse on the site in July 2018 but the Chief Planning Officer considers that the layout, siting and orientation of the proposed building makes poor use of the plot and the size and scale of the proposed house is too large].

During September, the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) reached a decision on the appeal against the imposition of two conditions on the planning permission, granted 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 Reporter decided to vary the appealed conditions and, given the scale and location of the proposed foundations, deleted the requirement to remove the foundations and restore the site to its original condition when electricity generation ceases.

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 was submitted on 25 September 2018 (DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2002).  An interesting case for the DPEA!

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.  It is expected that the Reporter’s report and recommendations will be submitted to Scottish Ministers in October.

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 submitted his report to Scottish Ministers on 5 September 2018.

 

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.

 

Development Management: June 2018 update

During June 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received 123 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The following applications are of particular interest:

  • Change of use of the upper ground floor of the Courthouse Business Centre, High Street, Peebles from office/retail use to hostel accommodation (SBC Ref: 18/00815/FUL);
  • Erection of a further 38 dwellinghouses at Thirlestane Drive, Lauder incorporating terraced, semi-detached and detached houses, 25% of which would be affordable housing likely to be social rent (SBC Ref: 18/00486/FUL);
  • Proposed retail and café development at Hergés on the Loch, Tweedbank (SBC Ref: 18/00776/PPP);
  • A retrospective application for the change of use of former garage and car showroom (the Redburn Garage on Peebles Road, Galashiels) to multiple use, including furniture workshop and showroom, caravan repairs, car valeting, catering unit, retail unit and sale of garden and outdoor equipment (SBC Ref: 18/00723/FUL).

In relation to the Proposal of Application Notice for the change of use of land to form a mobile luxury lodge holiday retreat on land west of Willowdean House, Foulden (SBC Ref: 18/00674/PAN), referred to in the May update, it is understood that a public exhibition was held in Foulden Village Hall on 29 June.  However, due to inadequate publicity in the local press, a further public event is to be held on 23 July 2018 and will be open to members of the public from 9.00am to 7.30pm.  The event will be attended by the applicant and/or the agent for the full period of the event to take questions from the public.

The much anticipated public event in relation to the Proposal of Application Notice for a major tourist development of 500 static caravans, 50 touring caravans and associated facilities on land at Thirlestane Castle, Lauder (SBC Ref: 17/01669/PAN), was held on 5 June 2018.  It will be interesting to see the results of this pre-application exercise when a planning application is submitted.

A Proposal of Application Notice has been submitted for a development by Eildon Housing Association of 69 dwellinghouses at Coopersknowe, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/00727/PAN).  A public exhibition is planned for 11 July 2018 at Langlee Community Centre, Galashiels between 3.30pm and 7.30pm.

A Proposal of Application Notice for the development of holiday lodges, hotel and golf driving range at the Roxburghe Golf Course was submitted on 20 June 2018 (SBC Ref: 18/00799/PAN).  A public exhibition on the proposed development is to be held at Heiton Village Hall on 7 August 2018 from 4.00pm to 7.30pm.

A Screening Opinion Request to determine whether an Environmental Impact Assessment is required in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2017 has been submitted for a large scale mixed use development, comprising retail, office, business/light industrial, hotel, residential and non-residential institution, housing and leisure use, together with a new access from the A68 and car parking, on the Auction Mart site at Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 18/00746/SCR).  A Proposal of Application Notice for the development was submitted on 9 February (SBC Ref: 18/00144/PAN) and a public consultation event was held in the Canteen at the Auction Mart on 26 March 2018 as part of the pre-application consultation process.

The council has been consulted on an application to erect a further 11 turbines at the Crystal Rigg Wind Farm, near Cranshaws in the Lammermuir Hills, which has been submitted to Scottish Ministers under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 (SBC Ref: 18/00768/S36).  A Pre-application consultation on the proposed extension was undertaken in the early part of this year and a public event was held in Cranshaws Village Hall in February 2018.

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.

During June 2018, the council decided 106 applications, only one of which was refused planning permission; for the erection of a dwellinghouse on the site of an agricultural building at Deuchar Mill in the Yarrow Valley (SBC Ref: 18/00355/PPP).  At its meeting on 4 June, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permissions for the erection of two dwellinghouses on land west of Peelgait, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 17/00923/PPP) and for the erection of a single dwellinghouse at The Gables, Smiths Road, Darnick (SBC Ref: 18/00396/PPP).  At its meeting on 25 June, the Committee granted planning permission for the erection of seven boarding kennels at West Greenfields, near Reston in Berwickshire, subject to a noise mitigation plan to protect the amenity of nearby houses, and a waste management plan for the storage and disposal of wastes generated by the development (SBC Ref: 18/00173/FUL).  At its meeting on 18 June, the Council’s Local Review Body (LRB) decided to reverse the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the part change of use of a paddock to form a new access and drive to Southbank, Bowden and the erection of a summerhouse and tennis court (SBC Ref: 17/01362/FUL).

During June, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) allowed the appeal against the refusal, by the council, of planning permission for the erection of four dwellinghouses at Elders Yard, Newtown St. Boswells and granted planning permission in principle subject to eighteen conditions (SBC Ref: 17/01342/PPP) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2070).  The Reporter concluded that the proposed development did accord, overall, with the relevant provisions of the local development plan and that there were no other material considerations that would justify refusing to grant planning permission in principle.

Five appeals remain to be determined against the refusal of planning permission: (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 the erection of a poultry building at Hutton Hall Barns, Hutton in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2065); (4) for the erection of a poultry building at Easter Happrew in the Manor Valley, west of Peebles (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2062); and (5) a residential development of 38 dwellings at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw in Berwickshire (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).

In relation to the appeal against the refusal of planning permission for residential development at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw, the appointed Reporter has intimated that she is minded to grant planning permission subject to a legal agreement in respect of a contribution to affordable housing.  The Reporter’s decision has been deferred for a period of 12 weeks pending the production of a completed planning agreement within that time.

The accompanied site inspection in connection with the appeal against the refusal of planning permission 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), took place on 14 June.

The public inquiry to be held in relation to the refusal of planning permission 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), is to commence at 10.00am on 24 July 2018 in the Novotel Hotel, Edinburgh Park (near the Gyle) and is expected to run for 2 days.  Members of the public are welcome to attend.  The public inquiry will be broadcast live to the internet as part of the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division’s webcasting service.

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).

 

Renewable Energy: April 2018 Update

Renewable electricity generation in Scotland reached record levels in 2017, according to official data.  Statistics published by the UK government showed an increase in Scotland of 26% in 2017, compared with the previous year.  The majority of this increase was attributed to greater onshore wind capacity.  The data also showed that by the end of 2017, just over 10GW of installed renewables electricity capacity was operational in Scotland.  It is estimated that the equivalent of 68.1% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland came from renewable sources, up year-on-year by 14.1 percentage points.  In commenting on these figures, Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, confirmed that renewable energy will continue to play a hugely significant role in powering Scotland’s future.

As those people who are concerned at the proliferation of wind turbines in the Scottish Borders will know, Scottish Borders Council has been relying on its 2011 Supplementary Planning Guidance on Wind Energy, large parts of which are out-of-date in relation to Government policy, when determining applications for wind energy developments.  When the Scottish Borders Local Development Plan was adopted in May 2016, it included an intention to produce up-to-date Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy, including wind energy, within one year of the adoption of the local development plan.

The council published Draft Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy in December 2016 for consultation with interested parties and, after a prolonged period of deliberation, a final version of the Supplementary Guidance has now been approved by Scottish Borders Council for submission to Scottish Ministers.  It is vital that the Council has up-to-date Supplementary Guidance in place, which takes cognisance of all relevant national planning policy and guidance, when assessing and determining wind farm proposals.  It also strengthens the council’s position when defending its refusal of planning permission for wind turbines and wind farms at planning appeals.

National planning policy promotes renewable energy developments to facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy.  The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires all public bodies to mitigate the causes of climate change.  The Government’s National Planning Framework (NPF3) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) are supportive of renewable energy.  Policy ED9 in the Scottish Borders Local Development Plan states that the Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy will accord with Scottish Planning Policy; this requires an onshore spatial framework identifying areas where wind farms will not be acceptable, areas of significant protection, and areas with potential for wind farm development; a contentious issue amongst those communities which have concerns about the impact of wind farms on the landscape and rural communities.

In terms of wind energy, the Supplementary Guidance, therefore, sets out a spatial framework as required by SPP, and incorporates an update of the Ironside Farrar Landscape Capacity and Cumulative Impact Study of July 2013, which has been the subject of intense scrutiny at recent planning appeals.  Although wind energy is the main component of the SG, reference is also made to a range of other types of renewable energy development, including micro-renewables such as photovoltaic panels, field scale solar voltaics, biomass, energy from waste, anaerobic digestion, hydro and ground source heat pumps.  The SG provides useful background information and good planning practice guidance on each of these energy types.

The spatial framework for wind energy proposals, which applies to all turbines that exceed 15m in height to blade tip, has been generated through a comprehensive sieving exercise of constraints, including national and international landscape and conservation designations and the visual impact on communities.  Figure 6 in the SG shows the results of this exercise and to the consternation of many people, I am sure, a large part of the Scottish Borders lies within the area designated as having potential for wind farm development.

However, compliance with the spatial framework is only one consideration in determining whether a wind farm proposal is acceptable.  Policy ED9 of the adopted local development plan identifies a comprehensive list of other considerations.  These are set out in chapter 8 of the SG and include:

  • Landscape and visual impacts;
  • Effects on Wild Land;
  • Cumulative impacts;
  • Impacts on communities and individual dwellings in the countryside;
  • Impacts on carbon rich soils;
  • Impacts on public access, the historic environment, tourism and recreation;
  • Impacts on aviation and defence interests and seismological recording, telecommunications and broadcasting installations;
  • Impacts on adjacent trunk roads and roads traffic;
  • Effects on the natural heritage (including flood risk);
  • Opportunities for energy storage;
  • Net economic impact;
  • Contribution to renewable energy generation targets and effect on greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Decommissioning and site restoration.

Also, whilst the spatial framework identifies areas of protection and areas with potential for wind farms, it takes no cognisance of landscape capacity issues, which are material considerations for wind energy proposals.  Consequently, outputs from the Ironside Farrar Landscape Capacity Study must be referred to as well as the spatial framework.  If turbines are proposed which exceed the turbine heights identified within the Ironside Farrar Study 2016, the onus will be on the applicant to demonstrate how the impacts of the proposal on the key constraints and any unacceptable significant adverse effects can be mitigated.

It will be interesting to see what Scottish Ministers have to say about this new Supplementary Guidance for I am sure that the Council will want to see it approved and incorporated into the local development plan as soon as possible.  As well as providing advice to applicants/developers on the wide range of issues to be addressed within their submissions, the SG should also enable development management officers within the Planning Department to provide clearer guidance on wind farm related considerations, and process applications more effectively and efficiently.

 

Development Management: March 2018 Update

During March 2018, the Scottish Borders Council received 148 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The following applications are of particular interest:

  • The erection of an 80 metres high anemometer mast at Windy Edge, north of Braidlie Farmhouse in the Hermitage Water valley, south of Hawick (clearly, the precursor of a wind energy proposal!) (SBC Ref:18/00253/FUL);
  • The erection of nine dwellinghouses in the small village of Birgham in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/00305/FUL);
  • The erection of 19 flats on the site of the former Burns Mill Building in Roxburgh Street, Galashiels (a site that has lain derelict for many years) (SBC Ref: 18/00230/FUL);
  • The demolition of B listed St. Aidan’s Church and Church Hall on Gala Park, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/00309/LBC);
  • The Change of Use of Castle Venlaw Hotel in Peebles and alterations to form 11 residential apartments (SBC Ref: 18/00182/FUL);

As reported in the February update, in recent months, there have been a number of pre-application notices submitted to the Council in relation to major developments.  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 prospective applicant must consult the community council, within whose area the proposal is located, and hold at least one public event where members of the public may make comments to the prospective applicant.  The recent Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) for the proposed hotel, retail, restaurant and petrol filling station at Tweedbank (SBC Ref: 18/00204/PAN) satisfied the minimum requirements of the Development Management Procedure Regulations in specifying the community councils to be consulted and the location, date and time of the proposed public event; Tweedbank Community Centre on Wednesday 14 March between 2pm and 8pm.

However, it would seem that some applicants are being somewhat reticent in providing all the information required when the PAN is submitted.  It is more often the case that PANs fail to specify when and where the required public event is to take place but leave it flexible; a public event is to be arranged; will be held next month, probably on such a date.  A notice of the proposed public event must be published in a local newspaper circulating in the locality in which the proposed development is situated at least 7 days before the holding of the public event.  Sometimes, this is the first intimation of the precise location, date and time of the proposed public event.

For instance, the PAN for a major development on the Auction Mart site at Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 18/00144/PAN) indicated that “Full details of the public consultation process…..will be made known….in due course.  The indicative date for the public consultation event stated in the PAN was 12 March 2018.  Subsequently, the date of the event was moved to 19 March and eventually to 26 March (with an advertisement in the Southern Reporter on 15 March).  It may well be that, in this instance, no-one was disadvantaged but perhaps the interests of the public might have been better served by providing full details of the proposed public event in the PAN, as required by the planning regulations.  The PAN for a major tourist development comprising 263 holiday lodges, 206 touring caravan pitches, 15 tree houses, 20 glamping pods and associated facilities at Rutherford House, near West Linton (SBC Ref: 18/00109/PAN) simply indicated that “We intend to send a PAN to West Linton Community Council in due course” and “a public consultation event will be held in mid-March at West Linton Primary School.”  The proposal has attracted some publicity in the press but, as yet, no such public consultation event has been organised or advertised.  The PAN for a major tourist development of 500 static caravans, 50 touring caravans and associated facilities on land at Thirlestane Castle, Lauder submitted on 5 December 2017 (SBC Ref: 17/01669/PAN) simply stated that the drop-in public exhibition is “anticipated to be held from 3pm to 8pm at a suitable venue in Lauder.  The date and venue are to be confirmedStakeholders will be notified of the event at least one week in advance, with an advert also placed in the Border Telegraph.”  To date, I am not aware of the publication of the date and venue for the proposed public event and a planning application for the proposal has yet to surface.

According to the Scottish Government’s Planning Circular 3/2013 on Development Management Procedures, the Scottish Government wants 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 objective of Pre-Application Consultation is for communities to be better informed about major developments and have the opportunity to contribute their views before a formal planning application is submitted.  This should help to improve the quality of planning applications, address misunderstandings and provide the opportunity for community issues to be aired and addressed.  Quite rightly, some communities are not happy with the way this procedure is operating in the Scottish Borders and the Planning Authority must find a way of ensuring that prospective developers abide by the spirit as well as the formal requirements of the statutory procedures.

During March 2018, the council decided 98 applications, only two of which were refused planning permission, under delegated powers to the Chief Planning Officer; for the extension of a dwellinghouse on Edinburgh Road, Peebles, and the erection of two chalets for holiday accommodation at Falahill Cottages, Heriot.  At its meeting on 12 March, the Council’s Local Review Body (LRB) upheld the officer’s decision (on 8 June 2017) to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse on land north-east of J Rutherford’s workshop in Earlston but varied the reasons for refusal in respect of flood risk.

On 26 March, the Council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee approved a number of applications, including; (i) a major £11.3m holiday complex at Glentress Forest outside Peebles, comprising 56 timber cabins, associated facilities and 10 miles of new mountain bike trails (see SBC Refs: 17/01625/FUL and 17/01633/FUL); (ii) the erection of up to 15 dwellinghouses at Bowbank Cottages, Eddleston in Peeblesshire, subject to access improvements (SBC Ref: 17/00767/PPP); (iii) the erection of 34 flats by Eildon Housing Association on a site in Huddersfield Street, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 17/00695/FUL); and (iv) the erection of affordable housing by Eildon Housing Association on a site at Craigpark Gardens, Galashiels (SBC Refs: 17/01709/FUL & 17/01757/MOD75).

As anticipated , the refusal of planning permission for the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of four dwellings at Elders Yard in Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 17/01342/PPP) is now the subject of an appeal to Scottish Ministers (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-270).  This brings the number of appeals to Scottish Ministers against the refusal of planning permission to eight (which must be an all-time record!).  The others that remain outstanding are: (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).

An appeal against an enforcement notice in respect of the painting of the exterior of 13 St. Ella’s Place, Eyemouth, a listed building within the Eyemouth Conservation area, was allowed on 29 March 2018 but only to the extent that the period for compliance was extended from one month to six months (ENA-140-2011).  The enforcement notice was upheld.  An appeal against an amenity notice in respect of the erection of scaffolding and metal panel fence on land at Kirkburn, near Peebles, submitted on 19 January 2018, remains to be decided (DPEA Ref: ANA-140-2000).

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).  In relation to the Fallago Rig applications, the inquiry and hearing sessions were held in August 2017.  In December 2017, the Scottish Government published the Scottish Energy Strategy and its Onshore Wind Policy Statement and the Reporter has offered the parties involved an opportunity to submit observations on the implications which may arise from these documents for the determination of the applications.  The exchange of representations and comments is continuing.  In relation to the Birneyknowe wind farm application (WIN-140-7), the inquiry and hearing sessions took place at Minto Golf Club during March (much interrupted by the inclement weather!).  A site inspection of the application area was successfully carried out on 29 March and the deadline for closing submissions was Monday 2 April with the applicant having the last word with a deadline of 9 April 2018.  We shall have to await and see whether this will be another knock for the council and the local community.

Whilst on the subject of wind farms, according to official data, renewable electricity generation in Scotland reached record levels in 2017.  Statistics published by the UK government showed an increase in Scotland of 26% in 2017, compared with the previous year.  The majority of this increase was attributed to greater onshore wind capacity.  The data also showed that by the end of 2017, just over 10GW of installed renewables electricity capacity was operational in Scotland.  It is estimated that the equivalent of 68.1% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland came from renewable sources, up year-on-year by 14.1 percentage points.  In commenting on these figures, Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, confirmed that renewable energy will continue to play a hugely significant role in powering Scotland’s future.

When the Scottish Borders Local Development Plan was adopted in May 2016, it included an intention to produce up-to-date Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy, including wind energy, within one year of the adoption of the local development plan.  The council published Draft Supplementary Guidance on Renewable Energy in December 2016 for consultation with interested parties and, after a prolonged period of deliberation, a final version of the Supplementary Guidance has now been approved by Scottish Borders Council for submission to Scottish Ministers.  You can find out more about this on my Renewable Energy Update April 2018.