First tests for extra care facility

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Eildon Housing Association’s bid to create 39 new extra care housing flats at the site of a former warehouse in Galashiels has a few hurdles to clear before building can begin.

The facility, which would allow elderly and vulnerable adults to live independently while still receiving care in their own homes, would be the first step in a £40m programme to create 150 new extra care housing properties across the Borders.

Nile Istephan, chief executive of Eildon Housing Association, said: “If approved, this major investment will result in the regeneration of this site and creation of a major community asset for Galashiels.

“Eildon Housing is delighted to be working in partnership with Scottish Borders Council on this project, and hopefully others in the future, which will provide state of the art housing options for our growing older population.”

And Councillor David Parker, depute chair of the Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board, said: “It is estimated that over 60 per cent of people going into residential care could have avoided or delayed this if extra care housing had been available in their area.

“Our partnership programme, including our first proposed development in Galashiels, can help contribute to meeting the needs of the growing elderly population of the Borders.”

However, concerns have been raised about how future residents would be protected from noise levels from the Borders Railway, which passes very close to the site in the town’s Glenfield area.

Steps to counteract this in the plans include a ‘closed window policy’.

In his assessment of the application, Scottish Borders Council’s environmental health officer, David Brown, wrote: “Closed window policies are only acceptable when it can be demonstrated that other mitigation measures cannot be utilised.

“No information has been provided as to why a closed window policy is the best mitigation method.”

Mr Brown asked for further information on this before the application is considered.

Another potential problem is that as part of the warehouse which is to be demolished to make way for the new building had originally formed part of the former Langhaugh Woollen Mill, and as such is “potentially contaminative”, and the developer has been asked to demonstrate that the land is suitable for the use proposed, “to ensure that the potential risks to human health, the water environment, property, and, ecological systems arising from any identified land contamination have been adequately addressed.”

Also, the owner of a neighbouring property has claimed that the plans for the ground floor of the proposed building “seem to be encroaching on private property belonging to householders at Langhaugh Crescent”.