Development Management: February 2019 update

During February 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 118 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  Perhaps the most significant application received relates to the proposed redevelopment of the auction mart at Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 19/00210/PPP).  A Proposal of Application Notice (SBC Ref: 18/00144/PAN) 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 was received on 9 February 2018.  As part of the pre-application process, a public consultation event was held on 12 March 2018.  The application for planning permission in principle provides some details of the proposed development, including a proposed master plan, which includes a new auction mart, up to 130 houses of mixed tenures, over 7,000sqm of retail accommodation and up to 8,000sqm of business and industrial development, all served by a new roundabout junction with the A68.  The master plan also accommodates the future extension of the Waverley Railway and the provision of a station at Newtown.  Newtown St. Boswells was identified as a centre for growth as far back as the 1960s and this proposal, together with sites identified in the local development plan and supplementary planning guidance, would certainly go a long way to creating a rural hub at this location with accessible housing, business and industry, retail, leisure and tourism developments.

In Kelso, M & J Ballantyne have applied for planning permission for the erection of 49 affordable homes at Angraflat Road, Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00185/FUL).  This would be the first phase of a development of a total of 120 dwellings on the site between Queens House Nursing Home and the new Kelso High School.  The site is identified for housing in the adopted local development plan.  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 February, some 125 planning applications have been determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Planning permission in principle has been granted for the erection of 120 dwellinghouses on land north and east of Hendersyde North Lodge at Kelso in line with the indicative capacity set out in the adopted local development plan (SBC Ref: 13/00259/PPP).  In Stow, planning permission has been granted for the erection of six dwellinghouses on a site incorporating land on either side of Lauder Road (SBC Ref: 0016/01461/PPP).  Planning permission was first granted for this development in December 2010 subject to a Section 75 legal agreement.  The subsequent planning consent, issued in December 2013, expired in December 2016.  Only one planning application was refused by the Chief Planning Officer: an application for the erection of two dwellinghouses at Cowdenburn Cottages, West Linton (SBC Ref: 18/01469/PPP).  The Chief Planning Officer considered that the proposal would be contrary to the council’s new housing in the countryside policy in that it would not relate sympathetically to the character of the existing building group and would cause the loss or serious damage to high amenity value trees.

On 4 February, the Planning and Building Standards Committee controversially refused planning permission, against the advice of the Chief Planning Officer, for two major housing schemes proposed by Eildon Housing Association.  Both had caused consternation in the respective local communities and the refusals were welcomed by them.  However, the chief executive of Eildon Housing Association called the decisions into question and threatened to lodge appeals to the Scottish Government [to date no such appeals have been received by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA)].  The applications relate to the erection of 69 dwellings at Coopersknowe Crescent, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 18/01417/FUL) and the erection of two blocks of residential flats, comprising 40 units, at Tweedbridge Court, Peebles (SBC Ref: 18/01086/FUL).  The committee considered that the increase in the number of dwellings proposed at Coopersknowe was unacceptable on the grounds that it would lead to over-development of the site and would create a significant adverse impact on the Langshaw Road, which adjoins the site and from which access would be taken.  In relation to the Tweedbridge Court proposal, which is sited on the banks of the river Tweed close to the town centre, this had aroused considerable objections from the Peebles community largely on the grounds of its visual impact.  The committee agreed that the proposed scale, mass, height and design of the proposed development was inappropriate to the character of its surroundings.  It remains to be seen as to whether Eildon Housing will submit appeals to the Scottish Government or whether amendments are made to these proposals to better respect the wishes of the local communities and the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee.

On 18 February, the Local Review Body (LRB) reversed the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for an extension to 10 Townhead Way, Newstead, near Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/01215/FUL).  The LRB considered that the proposal would have minimum impact on the privacy and amenity of the neighbouring property and agreed to grant planning permission.  In respect of the request to review the refusal of a planning application for the erection of a dwellinghouse on land at Chapel Cottage, Melrose, the LRB, by 5 votes to 2 votes decided to refuse the application on the grounds that the design of the proposed dwellinghouse was not in keeping with the character of the surrounding countryside (SBC Ref: 18/00956/FUL).

As previously indicated, appeals have been submitted to the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) 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).  The Reporter appointed to determine these appeals carried out an accompanied inspection of the site and surrounding area on Tuesday 5 February 2019 at 2.00pm.  A decision on the appeals is awaited.

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 has been upheld and consent granted for the removal of the copper beech (SBC Ref: 18/01057/TPO) (DPEA Ref: TWCA-140-2).  Although the Reporter considered that the tree was a fine specimen, of high amenity value and contributing to the attractive landscape of the Craigmyle Estate, and that national policy contains a strong presumption in favour of retaining the tree, he considered that the householders concerns relating to damage to the property or injury outweighed these considerations.  He was not convinced that the householders concerns would be satisfactorily addressed by reducing the crown diameter or simply removing the limb closest to the house.

The appeal in relation to 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 has been terminated following the withdrawal of the enforcement notice by the council (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV; DPEA Ref: ANAA-140-2001).  The appeal against the serving of an Enforcement Notice alleging the use of the property ‘Greenloaning’ on The Loan, West Linton for short stay visitor accommodation remains outstanding (SBC Ref: 18/00074/UNUSE; DPEA Ref: ENA-140-2013).  The Reporter in this case has requested further information from the appellant, to be provided by 12 March.

The appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the erection of 7 wind turbines on land north-west of Gilston Farm, near Heriot was upheld on 7 February and planning permission granted (SBC Ref: 17/00226/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068).  In deciding to allow the appeal, the Reporter was not convinced that the combined impact of the proposed windfarm, in association with the existing Dun Law windfarm, would be unacceptable.  He acknowledged that any windfarm development, by virtue of the height of the turbines, would have significant adverse impacts when seen close up but pointed out that the reasons for refusal in this case refer to the proposed windfarm only being unacceptable in the context of cumulative landscape and visual impacts.  He was also of the view, to the consternation of the affected community councils, that there was no justification for the refusal of planning permission on noise grounds.  The appeal against the refusal of planning permission 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 remains outstanding (SBC Ref: 17/01255/FUL) (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072).

Two 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; and (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).