A Mid-Berwickshire community is calling for a village hall at the heart of a proposed new housing development

A village hall must be incorporated in a planned housing development in mid-Berwickshire, concerned locals have demanded.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 11:11 am
Swinton Primary School is south west of the proposed development site.

Kelso-based Ladykirk Estates wants to build 13 new homes on land to the south and west of Swinton Primary School in Coldstream Road.

The same landowner had won previous approval from Scottish Borders Council to build 25 homes at the location.

But seven villagers have objected to the latest application and 32 others have signed a petition calling for a village hall to be provided within the development.

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The applicant has agreed to provide a community space, but villagers say it has been significantly reduced in size from an original application and is also inaccessible.

Despite the objections members of Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee will be recommended to approve the application, which will incorporate provision for affordable homes, when they meet via video-link on Monday, June 28.

One of the objectors, Dr Ewan Knox, of The Green, Swinton, said: “I object to this application on the grounds that the land for mixed use including land for village hall, community facilities has no longer been prioritised.

"Outline planning was clear that the community of Swinton could expect provision of a village hall that had parking, disabled parking and service vehicle delivery access.

"As it now stands the proposed amenity site fulfills none of this. If this application is allowed to proceed it undermines the expectations that by supporting the development the people of Swinton could look forward to a community facility. It would have allowed for a genuine engagement with our soon-to-be-new neighbours.”

Another objector, Fiona Wilson, also of The Green added: “I have been generally supportive of this development in the village as I felt it was to build a sustainable community, boosting the number of homes in the village by 25 per cent and hopefully bringing new children into our school and new nursery.

"During the process of the application, the developer engaged the community with a promise of a community facility - village hall and playing fields no less. Through this shared facility there would be a link between the older part of the village and the new development, rather than the ‘estate’ on the periphery.

"We heard about affordable housing which we hoped that young local families could have access to. Now it is clear that was never the intention of the developer. The latest iteration of site plan shows a 1932 sqm slice of land to the west of the school boundary wall and what will be the back gardens of new homes. It is named as ‘area of land to be set aside for community amenity use’.

"As has been articulated by the community in earlier parts of the process, this is both inaccessible and unusable so any attempt to seek funding to use this as an amenity space or build anything would be denied.

“The location at the bottom of new residents gardens would mean that any attempt for a community facility would be challenged by them.”

A spokesperson for Ladykirk Estates said: “This site presents a logical extension to the village, is of appropriate scale in relation to the scale of the village, does not prejudice the character of the village and would not cause a significant adverse affect to the landscape setting of the village.”