Development Management: September 2019 Update

During September 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 120 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  The vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses and alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Large scale developments are few and far between at the moment, a reflection of the general malaise in the building industry.

At the southern fringes of the region, in Newcastleton, the Newcastleton & District Community Trust (NDCT) has plans to restore and secure the re-use of Buccleuch House in the centre of the village, built in c.1850 by the Duke of the Buccleuch for community use (see SBC Ref: 19/01315/FUL).  It has been used as a club house, meeting rooms, a craft & resource centre and as a home to a small enterprise.  However, over time it has fallen into disrepair and needs a complete overhaul.  The NCDT plans to upgrade the building to provide, on the upper floor, bunkhouse accommodation for between 10-16 people to cater for the growing walking/cycling market.  On the ground floor, there would be a learning centre, meeting rooms and office space.  It is also proposed to provide on the land attached, a community laundry and secure bike lockers.  Newcastleton Business Forum wholly supports the project but objections, as well as letters of support, have been submitted and it will be interesting to see how this application progresses.

At the northern fringes of the region, in Peeblesshire, another interesting application relates to the erection of 15 huts on land east of Wester Deans, near West Linton (SBC Ref: 19/01256/FUL).  The applicant, Urban Animation, has obtained planning permission for similar developments at Saline and Falkland in Fife in support of the 1000 Huts Campaign launched in 2011 in response to a growing demand from a wide range of people to revitalise the hutting culture in Scotland.  In July 2017, the Scottish Government adopted new Building Regulations to enable hut building without a building warrant.  Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) defines a hut as “A simple building used intermittently as recreational accommodation (i.e. not a principle residence); having an internal floor area of no more than 30m²; constructed from low impact materials; generally not connected to mains water, electricity or sewerage; and built in such a way that it is removable with little or no trace at the end of its life.  Huts may be built singly or in groups”.

The application site forms part of North Clioch Wood and extends to some 5 acres.  Formerly a Forestry Commission Sitka spruce plantation, the site was cleared in 2009 and sold to the current owner, who has undertaken a replanting programme to create a mixed woodland.  Fifteen huts are proposed, each located within a 20 metre square plot, served by a group car parking area.  The huts would be finished with natural timber boarding, have a rectilinear shape and pitched roof finished in green recycled cellulose sheeting.  Heating would be from a wood burning stove; there would be no electricity supply but PV cells could be used to generate low voltage electricity for lighting.  Dry composting toilets would be located in each hut; no mains drainage or septic tank is proposed.  There would be no public water supply to the site.

It will be interesting to see what the local community and council officials make of this somewhat novel proposal for, if approved, there may well be a demand for further similar developments in this part of the Scottish Borders where, in the past, hut sites have been widespread and common-place and still exist at Eddleston, Soonhope, near Peebles and Carlops.

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 September, some 120 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Again, the vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  One proposal perhaps stands out; the conversion of Castle Venlaw Hotel in Peebles into residential apartments.  On 6 September, the Chief Planning Officer issued planning consent for the partial demolition and conversion of Castle Venlaw Hotel into eight residential apartments and the erection of three flats in the grounds (SBC Ref: 18/01287/FUL & 18/01286/LBC), known as scheme 2, which had been approved by the Planning and Building Standards Committee in March.  A simultaneous application for listed building consent for internal and external alterations to the building to form 11 residential apartments, known as scheme 1 (SBC Ref: 18/00181/LBC) had been referred to Scottish Ministers for determination because of objections from Historic Environment Scotland but this application has now been withdrawn.

Eight applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in September: (i) an application for the erection of two dwellinghouses on land north-east of 10 Railway Court, Newtown St. Boswells (SBC Ref: 19/01146/PPP); (ii) the demolition of an existing dwellinghouse and erection of a replacement dwellinghouse at Woodside Farm, Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00965/FUL); (iii) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Newton Farm, Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/00874/FUL); (iv) the erection of a fence at Denholm Mill, Denholm (SBC Ref: 19/00857/FUL); (v) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Carlenrig Farm, Teviothead, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00514/FUL); (vi) the erection of a dwellinghouse at Stow Road, Lauder (SBC Ref: 18/01766/PPP); (vii) the installation of replacement windows at 5-1 Sandbed, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00203/FUL); and (viii) the formation of a bus depot at Rhymers Avenue, Earlston (SBC Ref: 18/01018/FUL).

At its meeting on 2 September, the Planning and Building Standards Committee refused two major applications: (i) the development of a holiday park comprising 52 holiday lodges, reception/shop and office on land north west of Willowdean House, Foulden in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01479/FUL).  The proposal had attracted a great deal of objection and, although the Chief Planning Officer had recommended that the application be approved subject to 15 conditions, the Planning and Building Standards Committee decided to refuse planning permission (by a vote of 6 to 2) on the grounds that the proposed holiday lodges were not of the highest quality, were not in keeping with the local environment and would have an unacceptable adverse impact on local roads.  As a result, the proposed development would be inconsistent with the landscape characteristics of the area and would lead to unacceptable adverse impacts on pedestrian and road safety.  The Committee also refused planning permission for the erection of 57 dwellinghouses on land north east of Berwickshire High School in Duns (SBC Ref: 18/01635/FUL).  The southern half of the site is located within the 1 in 200 year functional floodplain and the eastern part of the site is also at the risk from flooding from an existing culvert and run-off from the main road (the A6105).  The Committee also considered that the proposals were over-engineered and did not create a clear sense of place; the external materials proposed were inappropriate; and there was inadequate landscaping to integrate the development with its surroundings.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee did, however, approve plans for the multi-million pound hotel, petrol station with food kiosk and drive-through café at Tweedbank, against the wishes of many hoteliers in Melrose.  The Borders Gateway development comprises a 71 bed Premier Inn, a BP petrol station and Marks & Spence food kiosk and Costa Coffee drive-through café (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL).  The original proposals had also included a large discount food retail unit but this was removed in response to objections and concerns about the impact on existing town centres.  Attracting a Premier Inn to the region has been an ambition of the council for some time and although the Galashiels community would have preferred a site in Galashiels, a site at Tweedbank has the advantage of good road and rail access.  The proposals attracted over 177 supporting comments and only 15 objections.  Councillors considered that the proposed hotel would cater for a different market to the hotels in Melrose.  Although the Chairman of the committee voiced concerns that the site occupied land identified for business and office purposes and moved that the application be refused, the committee voted by 6 votes to 2 votes to approve the application as per the Chief Planning Officer’s recommendation.

The Planning and Building Standards Committee also made a somewhat contentious decision in respect of a condition attached to the erection of a dwellinghouse in the village of Heiton, near Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00593/FUL).  The condition, attached to a planning permission granted in April 2016, required that an existing right of way which passes along the northern side of the site be maintained open and free from obstruction in the course of development and in perpetuity and shall not form part of the curtilage of the property.  No stiles, gates, steps or barriers to access should be erected to deter or hinder future pedestrian, horse rider or cyclist use.  However, large gates have been fitted at either end of the path through the house site and CCTV cameras monitor its use.  The application requested the removal of the condition from the planning consent and the applicant argued that it was not a relevant planning matter; rights of way are protected in terms of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.  Much to the consternation of many local residents and users of the path, the committee approved the application to remove the planning condition on the grounds that rights of way legislation exists to uphold public access rights and there was no longer a planning purpose of the condition.  However, the committee reiterated that the removal of the condition does not alter the status of the claimed right of way and should not be regarded as support of any proposal to extinguish and divert the path, which would require a separate request under the Land Reform Act.  Watch this space!

The Local Review Body on 16 September considered three appeals against the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission.  The LRB overturned the officer’s decision and granted planning permission for the erection of three holiday lodges at Hallrule Farm Cottage, Bonchester Bridge (SBC Ref: 18/01680/FUL).  The LRB upheld the officer’s decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse at The Rest, Murrayfield, St. Abbs in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01654/FUL) and for the use of land at Milkieston Toll House, Peebles as a dog walking facility (SBC Ref: 18/01161/FUL).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, much to the annoyance of householders at Coopersknowe, Galashiels, the appeal by Eildon Housing Association, for the erection of 69 dwelling units at Coopersknowe, Galashiels was upheld on 25 September (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2075).  Some compensation for Eildon for the loss of its appeal against the refusal of planning permission for 40 flats at Tweedbridge, Peebles?

Two other appeals remain outstanding: (i) the long-standing 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 (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072); and (ii) the appeal against the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot, which has been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine following a successful challenge to the Court of Session to the Reporter’s decision, dated 7 February 2019, to approve the application (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068-1).

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain 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).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July last year (2018).  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, an inquiry is to be held in relation on an application for an expansion of the Crystal Rig Wind Farm in the Lammermuirs, comprising the addition of 11 turbines to the existing 90 turbines (DPEA Ref: WIN-140-8).

 

Development Management: June 2019 update

Scottish Borders Council’s annual performance review for 2018/2019 shows that during the year 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 the council decided 1,369 planning applications (compared with 1,307 in 2017/2018).  In relation to householder developments, the council took on average 7.2 weeks to determine the applications, which is in line with the Scottish figure.  The council took, on average, 8.1 weeks to determine non-householder developments, compared with a Scottish figure of 10.4 weeks.  During June 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 116 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.

On the tourism front, in Peeblesshire, a planning application has been received for the erection of 26 holiday lodges on the Barony Castle Estate, outside Eddleston (SBC Ref: 19/00916/FUL).  A decision on the application for a proposed major leisure development at Rutherford House, near West Linton (SBC Ref: 19/00153/FUL), submitted in March 2019, remains outstanding and is unlikely to be made before October.  At the other end of the region, a planning application has been submitted for a major extension to the Roxburghe Hotel at Heiton, near Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00876/FUL).  The proposed extension comprises some 60 bedrooms, restaurant, spa and conference facilities and includes an external spa garden and terracing.  This proposal forms part of a wider investment, which includes refurbishment of the existing 22 bed hotel and the erection of 60 lodges, which have the benefit of planning permission.

In the Central Borders, an interesting development at Tweedbank, is the proposal by Tempest Brewing Company to expand their business with the erection of a new brewery building, including offices, shop and bar space, on the site of the former Eildon Mill and Units A & B on the industrial estate (SBC Ref: 19/00815/FUL).  Meanwhile, a decision is awaited on the proposal for a mixed use development, including a hotel, restaurant with drive-thru facility and petrol filling station with a shop on site, proposed for the site previously ear-marked for a B & Q retail warehouse (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL).  This application, submitted in October 2018, has been revised to omit the originally proposed retail food store in response to comments received.  It remains to be seen whether the amended proposal will gain the support of the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee; the opinion of Tweedbank residents is divided on the issue.  All those who made representations on the original proposals have been re-consulted on the revised proposals and a decision is unlikely before the September meeting of the Planning and Building Standards committee.

In Berwickshire, applications have been submitted for the erection of 10 new dwellings and 12 small business units on two sites at Marchmont Road, Greenlaw.  One application relates to the erection of 8 business units and the conversion of existing poultry sheds to form a further 4 business units on the site of the former poultry farm on Marchmont Road, Greenlaw (SBC Ref: 19/00913/FUL).  A second application relates to the erection of 10 dwellinghouses on land west of the poultry farm (SBC Ref: 19/00870/PPP).  The whole site was previously granted planning permission, on appeal, for the erection of 38 dwellings (SBC Ref: 16/01360/PPP; DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2059).  Applications have also been received for the erection of 5 dwellinghouses on a site off the Duns Road in Greenlaw (SBC Ref: 19/00809/PPP & 19/00810/FUL).

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, some 100 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  In Hawick, planning permission has been granted for the demolition of the former Armstrong’s [Almstrong’s] department store (SBC Ref: 18/01419/CON) and its replacement by a new building providing office accommodation for up to 17 small businesses.  This will be a welcome development in support of the council’s efforts to sustain the viability and vitality of Hawick’s town centre.

In Melrose, planning permissions have been granted for two innovative proposals; for the conversion of the former water tank on Dingleton Road, Melrose to a dwellinghouse (SBC Ref: 18/00386/FUL), and for the conversion of the former boiler house at Dingleton Hospital to form 5 flats (SBC Ref: 17/01632/FUL).  This concrete structure, built in 1977 and designed by well-known architect, Peter Womersley, was in danger of falling into disrepair following the closure of Dingleton Hospital.  Along with the Gala Fairydean stand, the SBC office building in Newtown St. Boswells built for Roxburgh County Council and the former Bernat Klein Studio outside Selkirk (perhaps his most celebrated work, which is also in danger), this structure illustrates the brutality of his modernist style, which combined the use of concrete with strong geometric lines.  Not necessarily loved by today’s generation, these structures epitomise the optimism of the late 1950s and 1960s.

Only three applications were refused planning permission in June by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers: (i) for the erection of a dwellinghouse at West Flemington, Eyemouth in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 19/00330/FUL); (ii) for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Langton Mill Cottages, Duns in Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01695/PPP); and (iii) for the erection of a porch on the front elevation of 2 Deloraine Court, Hawick (SBC Ref: 19/00386/FUL).  At its meeting on 3 June, the Planning and Building Standards Committee continued consideration of an application for the erection of 50 dwellings on land south west of Ayton Primary School in Ayton, Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01804/FUL).  On 17 June, the Local Review Body (LRB) considered two applications for a review of the Chief Planning Officer’s decision to refuse planning permission under delegated powers; the LRB overturned the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the part change of use of a barn at Mid Softlaw Farm, Kelso to a vehicle body repair and paint shop (SBC Ref: 18/01071/FUL; 19/00009/RREF).  The LRB also overturned the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the erection of two dwellinghouses on land at Cowdenburn Cottages, near West Linton in Peeblesshire (SBC Ref: 18/01469/PPP; 19/00010/RREF).

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, 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 was dismissed on 19 June (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV: DPEA Ref: ANA-140-2004).  As expected, an appeal has been submitted in relation to the council’s refusal of a request to issue a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use in relation to the residential use of the property ‘Glenacre’ at Camptown, south of Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/00339/CLEU; DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2003).

Three other appeals remain outstanding: (i) an appeal against the refusal of planning permission for two blocks of residential flats, comprising 40 units, at Tweedbridge Court, Peebles, a proposal by Eildon Housing Association (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2076); (ii) an appeal in relation to the proposal, also by Eildon Housing Association, for the erection of 69 dwelling units at Coopersknowe, Galashiels (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2075) and (iii) the long-standing 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 (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072).  A hearing into certain aspects of this appeal is to be held on 6 August in the Forman Hall, Roberton, commencing at 10.00am.

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain 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).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July last year (2018).

 

Development Management: January 2019 Update

During January 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received over 130 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees.  A planning application has now been received from Hart Builders on behalf of Eildon Housing Association for the redevelopment of the former Earlston High School site (SBC Ref: 19/00090/FUL).  The proposal involves the construction of 64 affordable homes at an estimated cost of £9.2m, part funded by a £5.2m social housing grant from the Scottish Government.  It comprises a mix of two, three and four bedroom houses.  Following the submission of a Proposal of Application Notice in October last year for residential development, a community engagement event was held in the Church Hall on 4 December 2018, attended by only 19 people.  The biggest concerns related to the potential increase in traffic on the High Street, which can be congested at certain times, and the possible use of the road through the development as a short-cut.  Consequently, the layout has been designed to discourage vehicles travelling through the development as an alternative to the High Street.  Pedestrian routes through the development would provide a safer route from the centre of Earlston to the new High School.

In Selkirk, Rural Renaissance, the contracting arm of J.S. Crawford, Builders, has submitted a planning application for 13 detached houses on a site at Hillside Terrace adjacent to the A7 and adjoining the town’s tennis courts (SBC Ref: 19/00074/FUL).  The site is allocated for residential use in the adopted local development plan.  Concerns have already been raised, however, about the desirability of creating a new access to residential development on this part of the A7.  Nevertheless, Transport Scotland, the Trunk Roads Authority, does not oppose the proposed access if designed and constructed to meet its requirements.  The proposal by Rural Renaissance Ltd for 26 dwellinghouses on land at The Croft, Dingleton Road, Melrose remains to be decided (SBC Ref: 18/01385/FUL).

In Berwickshire, a proposal for the erection of 51 affordable dwellinghouses by Berwickshire Housing Association on land south and west of Ayton Primary School on Beanburn, Ayton is causing a stir (SBC Ref: 18/01812/FUL).  The proposed development was the subject of a Proposal of Application Notice in July 2018 when two public consultation events were held in the primary school, attended by some 80 people.  Particular concerns were raised in relation to increased traffic on Beanburn Road and Lawfield Drive, the potential for increased flooding of adjoining houses and the impact of the development on the amenity of nearby houses.  The site is allocated for housing in the adopted local development plan but a number of objections have already been submitted in relation to the planning application, so this application will be one to watch out for at a future 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.

During January, some 100 planning applications have been determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  In Hawick, planning permission was granted, as expected, to 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).  According to the agents, acting on behalf of T.J. Morris: “The proposed development will improve choice for consumers, whilst complementing the existing offer within the town centre”.  Will it enhance the viability and vitality of Hawick town centre, I wonder!  Planning permission has been granted, after a 16 months delay, for the erection of ten retirement homes on the site of the former West Linton Primary School (SBC Ref: 16/01217/FUL).  A legal agreement will ensure that, at least initially, the houses will be occupied by those of retirement age.

Only three planning applications were refused: (1) a proposal to amend the design of an approved proposed house on land at Ruthven House, Coldstream on the grounds that the design and scale of the house does not respect the character and appearance of surrounding properties (SBC Ref: 18/01602/FUL); (2) a proposal for a new dwellinghouse on land east of Tarf House, Cardrona, Peeblesshire on the grounds that it does not comply with the council’s housing in the countryside policy (SBC Ref: 18/00884/PPP); and (3) a proposal to replace timber sash-and-case windows on the front elevation of the property Sunnybrae, which is within the Core Area of the Midlem Conservation Area, near Selkirk, with uPVC framed sliding sash-and-case units (SBC Ref: 18/01462/FUL).

On the 7 January, the Planning and Building Standards Committee granted planning permission for the erection of 64 affordable dwellings on land north of Sergeants Park, Newtown St. Boswells notwithstanding the receipt of a considerable number of objections from neighbouring residents and the community council (18/00486/FUL).  On 21 January, the Local Review Body (LRB) reversed the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwellinghouse at Linthill, Lilliesleaf, by Melrose (SBC Ref: 18/01332/PPP).  By a vote of six to one, the LRB considered that the proposal related to an established building group.  The applicant for a house on land near Tarf House, West Linton, was not so fortunate however (SBC Ref: 18/01341/PPP).  In that case, the LRB agreed with the Chief Planning Officer that the proposal amounted to sporadic residential development in the countryside unrelated to a building group and upheld the decision of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission.

As announced in the Tweedbank Development update (December 2018), Scottish Borders Council has acquired the remaining part of Lowood Estate, Tweedbank, an area extending to some 45 hectares (110 acres) between the Waverley railway line and the River Tweed.  The area is identified for a mix of residential and business development in the adopted local development plan, with the potential for some 300 houses and land for new business development.  At its meeting on 31 January, the Council agreed to submit the business case for the refurbishment of the existing Tweedbank Industrial Estate, at a cost of £15m, to the Scottish Government as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.  The first phase of development will create 4,660m² of new office space and 2,950m² of new industrial space on three sites (the ex-tapestry site, Eildon Mill and part of the Quarry site); the second phase will create up to 5,177m² of new office space on the rest of the Quarry site and the third phase will create 1,632m² of new office space and 400m² of industrial space on the southern edge of the Lowood Estate.  The whole programme will be completed over the 15 year life of the City Region Deal.  Meanwhile, 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 ( originally identified for a B&Q warehouse) at Tweedbank Industrial Estate (SBC Ref: 18/01520/FUL) remains to be determined.  To date, the application has been the subject of a number of objections as well as supporting comments.  It will be interesting to see how the Planning and Building Standards Committee views this proposal against its vision for Tweedbank Industrial Estate and Business Park.

On 7 January 2019, the Scottish Ministers accepted the Reporter’s recommendation that planning permission should be granted, subject to 16conditions, to the application by Eildon Housing Association for residential development at Huddersfield Street, Galashiels, which was called-in for determination in view of the possible flood risk (SBC Ref: 17/00695/FUL) (DPEA Ref: NA-SBD-054).  The Reporter was satisfied that, whilst the cycle storage area and most of the car park was at risk of flooding, there was no reason why the building containing the residential accommodation could not be designed and constructed so as to be undamaged by any predicted flood event.

On 24 January, the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) dismissed 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).

As previously indicated, 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).  The Reporter appointed to determine these appeals will carry out an accompanied inspection of the site and surrounding area on Tuesday 5 February 2019 at 2.00pm.

Appeals remain outstanding 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 (SBC Ref: 15/00045/UNDEV; DPEA Ref: ANAA-140-2001); and 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).

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).

 

Tweedbank Development Update: January 2019

Some fifty years after the idea of a new village at Tweedbank, near Galashiels, was first raised, the final piece of the jigsaw has been put in place with the acquisition by Scottish Borders Council, on 6 December 2018, of the remaining part of Lowood Estate.  The area acquired extends to some 45 hectares (110 acres) between the Waverley railway line and the River Tweed.  The area is identified for a mix of residential and business development in the adopted local development plan.  The Tweedbank Masterplan prepared by Proctor Matthews Architects, considered by the council in January 2018, identifies the potential for some 300 houses and land for new business development.  This Masterplan will be taken forward in the new local development plan LDP2.  Although this purchase has been described as a bold development by the council’s Executive Member for Business and Development, maximising the benefits of the Borders Railway and creating hundreds of jobs, some councillors consider that the cost of the purchase (£9.6m) is a speculative and risky use of public money when budgets are constrained.  According to the council’s Executive Director, the Lowood project could cost £90m, including the cost of the purchase of the land, but it could potentially generate £150m of Gross Value Added (GVA).  It is estimated that 179 jobs could be created with a maximum of 173 construction jobs.  The overall Tweedbank Masterplan, which includes the refurbishment of the existing Tweedbank Industrial Estate, could cost £203m but would potentially generate £1.3b of GVA and create some 1,400 jobs.  It is considered that development on this scale is unlikely to be delivered without a comprehensive approach and public-sector pump priming; echoes of the philosophy behind the foundation of a new village at Tweedbank.

The idea for a new village at Tweedbank emerged in the mid-1960s.  The 1966 White Paper on the Scottish Economy 1965-1970 set out proposals to expand the economy of Scotland by providing new jobs and reducing the net loss of population experienced over the previous decades.  In relation to the Scottish Borders, the White Paper proposed that within the catchment area of Galashiels (a radius of 15 miles), which had a population of 73,000 persons in 1966, there should be a substantial and integrated programme of housing and new industry, the objective being to establish self-sustaining population growth.  A population increase of some 25,000 people over the succeeding 10-15 years (up to 1981) was proposed for the area comprising the three counties of Peeblesshire, Selkirkshire and Roxburghshire, excluding Kelso & District.

Professors Johnson-Marshall and Wolfe of Edinburgh University were appointed to prepare a plan for the increase in population of 25,000 people within the Galashiels Catchment Area.  Their report “The Central Borders: A Plan for Expansion”, commonly referred to as “The Central Borders Plan”, was published in two volumes in 1968.  The Central Borders Plan envisaged a “regional city” with the main settlements; Galashiels, Selkirk, Hawick and Jedburgh, sharing facilities and amenities.  In addition to the land allocated for housing in the main settlements in the existing County Development Plans, which could accommodate an additional 5,000 people, the Central Borders Plan incorporated a proposed new village at Tweedbank, where a population of 4,400 people was planned, and identified Newtown St. Boswells, which at the time had good road AND rail connections, as the location for a major settlement of some 10,000 population.

Excluding commitments in the existing County Development Plans, housing land for only an additional 1,700 people (out of the total of 25,000) was identified for Hawick, Selkirk and Jedburgh in the Central Borders Plan.  Not surprisingly, there was a strong body of opinion in Selkirkshire and Roxburghshire against the proposed expansion of Newtown St. Boswells.  Neither County Council showed any enthusiasm for major development at Newtown.  Selkirkshire County Council wanted to see more development in Galashiels and Selkirk, and Roxburgh County Council favoured a more modest increase of 3,000 people at Newtown St. Boswells with an enlarged share for Hawick and Jedburgh.

However, plans for Tweedbank were progressed; an amendment to the Roxburghshire County Development Plan was prepared in 1968 encompassing almost 300 acres of land, 190 acres of which was in the ownership of Lowood Estate (Mrs Constance Hamilton).  This amendment allocated land for housing and industry, playing fields, amenity open space and woodland and a new principal traffic route between Darnick and the A7 at Kingsknowes involving a new bridge over the Tweed.  As a result of objections from Mrs Constance Hamilton and others, public inquiries were held in December 1968 and March 1969.  The amendment to the county development plan was eventually approved by the Secretary of State in September 1969, following which a Masterplan for the development of approximately 1000 houses was prepared by the Scottish Special Housing Association (SSHA).

Land owned by five of the six owners was acquired voluntarily but Mrs Constance Hamilton declined to negotiate and a Compulsory Purchase Order was taken out.  Although this was also approved by the Secretary of State in September 1969, appeals to the Court of Session delayed the commencement of development until 1973.  The construction of the distributor road through Tweedbank commenced on 31 March 1973 and planning permission was granted for Phase I of the SSHA housing in June 1973 with house construction commencing in October 1973.  The new A68-A7 link over the River Tweed at Galafoot Bridge was opened in 1975.

SSHA would eventually build almost 300 houses in three phases over the next five years but the public sector housing programme came effectively to a halt in 1980 owing to a change in Government [the election of the Thatcher Conservative Government].  It was 1990 before Scottish Homes, formed in 1989, embarked on an expansion of housing at Tweedbank with a further 400 houses of varying tenure over a 6-year programme.  Eildon Housing would also build houses for rent and part-ownership.  Private housing would be built by Bett Homes in the 1980s and, more recently, by Barratt Homes.  By 2011, the population had reached 2,000 persons, considerably less than the 4,400 persons envisaged in 1968.

Within the centre of the village, a local centre was proposed comprising a primary school, community centre, shops, church hall and public house, situated close to a central lake formed in an existing swampy depression.  Tweedbank Primary School was opened in October 1976 [and was extended and refurbished in 2011] but there would be little progress on a village centre.  It was 1991 before a design/developer brief was prepared but efforts to find a developer floundered and little progress was made until 1995 when a block of three retail units was constructed.  The village centre now comprises a single local shop, a hairdressers and a bar/restaurant fronting the lake (originally described as the second lake in Scotland after the Lake of Menteith but now commonly known as Gun Knowe Loch).  Local offices of the Scottish Government’s Agriculture and Rural Economy Division are located close by.  A newly refurbished community centre is housed in the old Tweedbank Farm.  Lowood Mains houses a number of craft workshops.  A large area of playing fields and open space now includes an all-weather running track, an Astroturf football pitch, an indoor bowling club and sports complex.

Approximately 30 acres of land was allocated for industry in 1968, which it was estimated would accommodate approximately 500,000 sq.ft. [46,000 sq.m.] of floorspace and provide some 700 jobs.  The Scottish Development Agency (SDA) would be the prime mover in the development of the industrial estate, building both advance factories and bespoke units.  By the late 1980s, the SDA had built eleven blocks of industrial units of varying size, providing a total floor-space of some 120,000 sq. ft. occupied by tenants such as Hill Robinson Thread Co. Ltd., Tweedbank Circuits, Peri-dent Ltd., Magnet and Sprague Electric (UK) Ltd.  The Borders Regional Council built smaller workshop units (Eildon Mill).  In 1988, the Regional Council serviced 4.6ha of land on the north side of Tweedbank Drive and established Tweedside Park.  The first occupant was Radio Borders in January 1990.  They would be followed by Barbour, who moved from a smaller unit in Newcastleton, in 1996 and the Scottish Public Pensions Agency in 2001.  The Barbour factory closed in 2008, to be occupied by Plexus, an electrical wholesaler, until 2016.  The unit is now empty.

The SDA had begun to sell-off units to sitting tenants at Tweedbank from 1987 and in March 1990, the SDA sold substantial parts of its property holdings, including all land and buildings at Tweedbank, to Caledonian Land plc.  The Borders Regional Council made known its concerns to little effect.  The following year, the SDA was transformed into Scottish Enterprise, which established new local enterprise companies (LECs).  The Borders LEC, Scottish Borders Enterprise, was launched in April 1991.  Although not involved in building advanced factories, the LEC still had a role in providing business premises, such as building or converting existing buildings tailored to the needs of individual companies, environmental improvements and training.

Aggmore, a Real Estate Fund Manager, acquired the former SDA land/factory holdings in 2003, after a period of stagnation, and carried out various improvements.  By this time, manufacturing units had been converted to warehousing, with tenants such as Securicor, DHL, Plumbase and Plumbstore.  Electrical and telecoms firm Qube GB were attracted to the estate.  A significant part of the Tweedbank Industrial Estate is still understood to be owned by Aggmore.  The remainder comprises a mix of owner-occupied units and a tenanted unit (Eildon Mill) owned by Scottish Borders Council.

However, the industrial estate is suffering from an ageing and increasingly sub-standard stock of buildings and the size and layout of the buildings and related loading/parking areas are not consistent with modern requirements.  Four council sites, two on the industrial estate and two situated on the north side of Tweedbank Drive have been identified for development/redevelopment.  Tweedbank Industrial Estate has been designated a Simplified Planning Zone and associated Supplementary Guidance has been approved by the council to safeguard land and buildings for business uses.  Work on Supplementary Guidance for the Lowood Estate is to commence early in 2019 to be completed by the end of 2020.  A marketing and development strategy is to be developed in parallel.  Time will tell whether the acquisition of Lowood Estate is a prudent purchase or whether it will prove to be a ‘White Elephant’.  However, it should be remembered that the original purchase of Tweedbank in the 1970s was questioned in some quarters but I think all would agree that, 45 years later, albeit the population and employment projections have been shown to be over-optimistic, the project has been an overwhelming success.  Let us hope that we will be saying the same about this latest purchase in 20 years time.