Peebles housing approved

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AN AFFORDABLE housing scheme in Peebles has won the backing of Scottish Borders Council – despite calls for it to be put on hold until a location for the town’s second bridge is agreed.

Eildon Housing Association will build 16 homes at the current Dunwhinny Lodge care home on the south side of the Tweeddale town after councillors supported the application at Monday’s planning committee meeting.

A condition has been added which allows SBC to consider parking restrictions on Glen Road and Kingsmuir Drive, following concerns from nearby residents.

But Peebles Community Council fears the development – which will see Dunwhinny Lodge pulled down – could lead to further housing in an area which it believes cannot support further traffic.

Community councillors argued the housing complex should have been delayed until the town decided where its new bridge shall be built, with the options cut to three in a report being presented to councillors today (Thursday).

Outlining the community council’s reservations, a spokesperson wrote: “Given that there is a moratorium on developments on the south side of the Tweed – albeit self-imposed – approval of this application would breach that policy and probably prompt (several) applications from developers, which if approved, could not be sustained within our present roads, educational and health infrastructures – re-emphasing the need to resolve the matter of transport integration and a second bridge as a matter of some urgency.

“Until the matter of the second bridge has been resolved and a long-term plan for road and path interconnectivity across Peebles has been developed and agreed, we are of the view that new housing development south of the river should be put on hold. Despite local need for larger family-sized affordable housing, we are of the view that this development should also be put on hold until these matters are resolved.”

However, Peeblesshire councillor Catriona Bhatia was adamant the need for affordable homes in the town outweighed infrastructure concerns.

She told TheSouthern: “The bridge issue is not significant as far as I am concerned and the latest transport study report which has just been published includes research which says capacity will not be reached until 2020.

“I don’t think there will be traffic difficulties to be honest, but it is good news that a condition has been attached to consider parking restrictions at Glen Road and Kingsmuir Drive.

“The most important thing is this development will provide much-needed affordable homes for Peebles.

“When the administration was formed, we pledged to see 100 affordable homes built per year in the Borders.

“This is good news for families in Peebles. There are traffic concerns, but the greater good has to be considered.”

Fellow Peeblesshire West councillor Nathaniel Buckingham added: “It is great to move this site forward as an affordable housing development of 16 properties – this is a much needed addition to social housing in Peebles.

“I was a little disappointed that the Dunwhinny Lodge building could not be retain or reused, but an options appraisal was undertaken which demonstrated that for affordable housing only a new build scheme was viable.

“The developer has responded well to some of the initial design concerns and created a development that will be attractive to live in and retains public pedestrian access through the development.”

Eildon’s chief executive Nile Istephan told us: “We are pleased that the committee passed the application to provide much needed affordable homes in Peebles.

“As part of this approval we understand that the council have been asked by the committee to undertake a traffic impact assessment related to this development.

“This is further to transport impact study that we have already undertaken in preparing our application and we are confident that this will verify that transport flows are projected to be broadly in line with those experienced from the current use of the site.”

Additional concerns were expressed by Peebles Civic Society, which believed the plans are poorly designed.

Last month, Eildon opened its £850,000 Cleland Avenue development in Peebles which includes six family homes.

Eildon say the hope to complete the building of the Dunwhinny Lodge scheme by summer 2014.