Council committee divided over plans for relocation of Borders agricultural dealership

Andrew and Garry Wight. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)Andrew and Garry Wight. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)
Andrew and Garry Wight. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)
Two Melrose brothers hoping to transfer their agricultural dealership to adjoining land have been given fresh hope of a council U-turn.

Andrew and Garry Wight are directors with the agricultural and engineering company AB Wight on the Charlesfield Industrial Estate at St Boswells.

They want to relocate to an adjoining 1.7 acre brownfield site.

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But a planning application submitted to Scottish Borders Council to transfer operations to the former Slaters Yard was refused on the grounds it was not in line with the authority’s Local Development Plan.

Today, Monday, September 13, members of the council’s local review body met to consider an appeal against that refusal.

The committee members were divided on the issue and adjourned a decision for a site visit to be held and for a hearing to be convened to consider if any potential alternative locations for the dealership were available.

Opposition to the bid centered on the “intrusive” visual impact it would have on St Boswells and the Eildons.

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St Boswells Community Council opposed the application, stating that industrial development should be retained at Charlesfield.

Opinion was divided amongst committee members.

Chair Simon Mountford said: “If this was a green field site we would almost certainly refuse development permission for it, but it’s not, is it? It’s a brownfield site and is already operating and is being developed and that does change the situation somewhat.”

Councillor Donald Moffat said: “If you were having a business park you would have it close to a main road as this is.

"When you talk about agricultural businesses you would expect them to be in the countryside. This wouldn’t be the first to be in a countryside location and personally when you look at images of this site it was not a great place of beauty before it was improved. This business is currently in two or three different locations at Charlesfield and if you are running a business you want it all on one site, that make sense. There is a need for this type of business in the countryside.”

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Councillor Jim Fullerton said: “It is a prime site and the fact that it is so visible is a problem we have here.

"The applicant claims he can’t expand on the Charlesfield Industrial Estate and this to him is an option. I feel torn for the chap trying to get a business established here, it’s not easy and there is no doubt there will be job creation as a result of this but we have to come back and wrestle with the site of this building. It is still quite a visible building.”