Reporter to rule on draft plan

Wind turbines at Soutra
Wind turbines at Soutra
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A government reporter will make the final judgement on disputed land use proposals after 187 representations were made to Scottish Borders Council on the draft local development plan.

Many of the comments from developers, planning consultants and local residents are positive, backing up the council’s propositions for the type of developments suitable on parcels of land across the area.

However, a number of issues and objections have been raised over site proposals and policy wording on matters ranging from renewable energy to affordable housing, and these will be left to a reporter to make the final decision.

A 829-page report, summarising the responses to the draft plan, the respondents’ proposed changes to the plan, and the council’s responses to those, has been produced and will be sent to the reporter.

In a report to go before the council today (Thursday), forward planning manager Martin Wanless states: “There were 187 separate representations by individuals, companies or organisations to the proposed LDP, and these consisted of some 500 separate comments.

“In general, this level of response would indicate broad acceptance of the proposals within the plan given that the site proposals have all been neighbour notified.”

However, Mr Wanless added: “Members will note that there are a significant number of representations from SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency).

“SEPA did not respond on these matters to the ‘Main Issues Report’. It is therefore disappointing to receive significant numbers of further comments from SEPA at the proposed plan representation stage, despite ongoing officer engagement with them.”

In his report, Mr Wanless states that the Main Issues Report was produced for consultation back in April 2012.

This resulted in more than 270 responses on around 1,000 issues.

This information was then fed back into the production of the final draft of the LDP, which was published for consultation in December last year.

In recommending that all issues raised with the final draft be submitted to the reporter for a decision, Mr Wanless states: “This will allow independent, objective consideration of the merit of the representations to the plan.”

Any recommendations made by the reporter will generally be binding on the local authority.

The moves means that the council will not need to modify the draft plan, which would have resulted in yet another round of consultation, which will in turn speed up the formal adoption of it.

During the consultation developers and house builders have objected to the 25 per cent requirement for affordable housing.

A number of wind farm developers have also raised objections to the proposed wording in relation to the council’s draft policy on renewable energy.

Community councils and residents have also had their say on the draft plan.