News and Current Issues
Renewed Threat to Abbotsford House
The recent Main Issues Report Consultation for our new LDP2 proposed a Housing Estate on the Tweed at Netherbarns, on the opposite bank to Abbotsford House.
The responses to that consultation are being collated, with an expectation that a Proposed LDP2 will be put out for Formal Representations in the winter of 2019-2020.
We remain strongly opposed to this proposal.
We say that the issue cannot be reduced to being just about the views, seasonal or otherwise, from Abbotsford House. Protecting the Setting of Abbotsford is about more than just hiding a housing estate behind curtains of tree-planting along the south-eastern boundary of the site.
The Setting would still be shamefully compromised—for visitors, including those heading for the Eildon and Leaderfoot National Scenic Area, arriving along the A7 from the Selkirk direction; from the historic Designed Landscape and its footpaths, now enjoyed all year round by increasing numbers of walkers and visitors to Abbotsford; and from the surrounding hills.
We are, understandably, exasperated that the Council and the Developer/Owners are once again pursuing the idea of inappropriate suburban development at Netherbarns—which has four times in the last twelve years been found against at Public Inquiry/Local Plan Examination.
We again say it is inappropriate for Galashiels to spread further over the Kingsknowes ‘shoulder’ into land associated with the Area of Great Landscape Value; and further upstream in relation to the Tweed, which is not the natural water valley of the town.
We have said previously that a housing estate would be inappropriate in character and scale, but that a small, landscaped build of just several houses with associated features, such as orchards, woodland or stables, would provide a softening of the town’s present hard edge at Kingsknowes-- and an appropriate, irrevocable transition between town and countryside.
We believe the conclusions of the last Public Inquiry, reported on by Mr Richard Dent in 2015, remain definitive: “ Despite the lack of a formal objection by Historic Scotland, I concur with the conclusions reached at the previous local plan inquiry. It appears to me that cultural and landscape considerations combine to provide an asset which should remain free of the impact of the suggested allocation and any subsequent development of Netherbarns. I do not accept that the woodland screening would adequately mitigate the adverse impacts of the allocation on the setting of the house or the designed landscape. Additionally, the re-opening of the railway link to Galashiels is likely to increase the volume of visitors to Abbotsford, therefore further strengthening the need to protect the heritage of the vicinity.”
Housing Estate on Lower Slopes Of Eildon Hills
In 2018, Developers brought forward proposals to build 28 Houses on The Croft site at Melrose.
The site had controversially been allocated for housing many years ago--despite being on the lower slopes of the iconic Eildons in our small and vulnerable National Scenic Area at a point where most visitors start walking both St Cuthbert's Way and the Eildons themselves.
Despite a vigorous local campaign and, when it seemed clear Scottish Borders Council was likely to approve a Modified Proposal, our arguments to mitigate the landscape damage by reducing numbers and the majority of houses to single storey, the Application was Approved with only minor modifications.
Next City Region Plan
The South East Scotland City Region has started to prepare the next Strategic Development Plan, which was intended to replace the current plan in 2017 and is intended to be effective for the next twenty years, to finish in 2037.
The first stage was the Consultation about the Main Issues to be addressed.
One of the headline targets is to secure a 25% increase in households and, given Edinburgh's previous solution of looking to the Borders to secure growth of its workforce, we were nervous of being lined up for a second hit. However, at this stage at least, this does not appear to be the preferred approach--but will need watching.
Currently the SESplanners are looking to the constituent Local Authorities for confirmation of their latest Affordable Housing plans to help inform the region's Housing Supply targets.
The Consultation on the Main Issues Report can be found at:
A Borders National Park?
Various groups, including at national level the Scottish Campaign for National Parks and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, and interested individuals have begun campaigning for the creation of a new National Park, which would obviously deliver benefit to our local landscape--though we note a present suggestion for boundary does not include Abbotsford's Managed Landscape!
The Campaign commissioned an Independent Feasiblity Study, as requested by Scottish Borders Council.
In September 2017 the authors, Duncan Bride Associates, endorsed the feasibility and socio-economic benefits. The Campaign is preparing a Position Statement.
Details of the campaign, events planned and opportunities to comment or get involved, can be found on their web-site at: