Keeping place with the planners

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I wouldn’t be a planning officer for all the tea in China. Last week’s Southern showed how planners, whatever they do, are bound to upset somebody.

The NHS may not like opposition to a badly-needed new ambulance station, but planning is not just about what is built, it’s also about where it’s built. If it’s in the wrong place then it should be rejected, especially if there is a better site not far away, in this case with better access and which doesn’t involve chopping down trees which screen Borders General Hospital. As for Knock Knowe north of Earlston – great design for a new house, but wrong place.

Fortunately, in the Borders we have enough space to accommodate all sorts of worthwhile development without spoiling what we’ve already got. Which makes it all the less excusable to build something, whatever its merits, in the wrong place. Good design cannot justify a poor choice of site.

Planners will admit that perhaps only 10 years ago they saw it as their job to get development into a sparsely-populated region.

The Borders Party was formed by people who recognise that what makes this region special to locals is also good for our economy, because it attracts investors and tourists – we spoil it at our peril.

I have no doubt that planners, at least at local level, now have a far better understanding of the Borders’ unrivalled natural and cultural heritage, and make considerable efforts to look after it. I am the first to be angered by poor planning judgement, but in these two cases our planning officers are spot on.

Councillor Nicholas Watson

(leader of the Borders Party)