Council rejects Greenlaw scheme

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A BID to build a linked housing and business development on the outskirts of Greenlaw has been labelled ridiculous, writes Kenny Paterson.

The Scottish Borders Council (SBC) planning committee refused the application by Patrick Carrick for nine new homes and six business spaces, as recommended by officers from the local authority.

Officials said that the scheme, for land west and south east of Edinburgh Road, was outwith the local plan for the village, and would prejudice the character of the community.

Mr Carrick argued that the housing was needed to offset part of the cost of the business units, which he said were in demand.

But Kelso councillor Simon Mountford said: “There doesn’t seem to be any logical case for these two developments.

“I am particularly unhappy with the business development which seems isolated like an orphan stuck out there [alongside Edinburgh Road]. They say there is a demand which has not been substantiated. I just think it is a nonsense.”

Jedburgh member Jim Brown echoed Councillor Mountford’s thoughts.

He added: “I think it is ridiculous to be trying to build a group of buildings outwith the local plan.

“There does not seem to be any planning behind it. We should be encouraging people to go through the local plan and this has not.”

Mr Carrick, owner of Kelso-based Langlee Development Services, said building the homes at Wester Row would allow the business units to be made available at affordable rates for local firms.

Without the homes, Mr Carrick estimated that he would suffer a loss of £280,000 because the cost of building the units exceeded the open market value.

The businessman told planners: “It is considered that this [application] is particularly important in the current economic climate where the council should be doing everything it can to support new economic development related investment, such as this, in a rural community like Greenlaw.”

However, SBC’s development standards manager John Hayward said its economic development section had reported no interest in business space in the area the last 18 months, and that there were surplus units in Berwickshire.

Mr Hayward added: “The applicant claims the housing development is necessary for the business units.

“But if there is no justification for the business units at this time, there can be no case for the housing.”

The application received support from Selkirkshire councillor Vicky Davidson, a former executive member for economic development, who said creating employment land is expensive and should be welcomed.

She found no support for her motion to approval the bid.