Newtown affordable homes scheme gets the green light

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Borders councillors have given the go-ahead for the construction of 53 rented affordable houses in Newtown St Boswells.

The development will take place in two phases on agricultural fields at the north-western edge of the 1,200-population village, stretching west to east from Sprouston Burn towards the football field, the bowling green and the local primary school.

It is a joint venture between applicant Queensberry Properties Ltd, who will construct the houses, and the Eildon Housing Association (EHA) which will manage 49 of the units and rent them out at “social housing rent levels”.

The balance of four apartments will, subject to EHA agreement, be operated by Bridge Homes, Scottish Borders Council’s arms-length affordable housing provider, for “mid-market” rent.

A meeting of SBC’s planning and building standards committee heard the 1.74-hectare sloping site already had consent for 30 houses.

But local planning officer Julie Hayward said the higher density proposal was “considered acceptable” as a housing association-managed development and was actually an improvement, in terms of design and lay-out, on the previously approved scheme.

The development will be a mixture of single and two storey semi-detached and terraced homes providing two and three-bedroomed accommodation. Walls will be blockwork with a dry dash render finish and the roofs will be grey concrete tiles.

Access to the site, which lies within the Eildon and Leaderfoot National Scenic Area (NSA) and offers views of the Eildon Hills, will be from residential Sergeant’s Park to the south.

In a report recommending approval of the detailed planning application, subject to no fewer that 22 planning conditions, Mrs Hayward sought to address the reservations of Newtown and Eildon Community Council and the objections of 12 villagers.

These concerns related to loss of amenity, the propensity of the football pitch to flood during heavy rainfall and the potential for increased traffic, not only in Sergeant’s Park, but also at the busy road junction near the school.

Mrs Hayward explained that a sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS) would ensure that surface water ran off into a pond which would be created at the entrance to the site.

She said 96 car parking spaces across the two phases of the scheme would be provided on site and that buffer zones would be created along the eastern and northern boundaries to protect existing mature trees.

“It is not considered that the proposal would negatively impact on the character of the area, residential amenities, the special qualities of the NSA or the visual amenities of the area,” she stated.

“Adequate on-site parking, access, drainage and servicing can be achieved.”

“This proposed residential development is considered acceptable and is an appropriate use for this part of Newtown St Boswells.”

The committee unanimously approved the application.