Melrose flats bid approved amid objections

A Melrose church is set to be demolished to make room for an over-55s apartment complex and a gym.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 10:16 am
A former church in Melrose's West Grove, off Waverley Road, set to be demolished to make way for an apartment block.

Developer Rural Renaissance has been given the thumbs up by Scottish Borders Council to demolish the former church on West Grove, just off Waverley Road, and build a four-storey retirement housing complex.

Proposals for a gym and health spa round the back of the complex have already been given the green light by the council’s planning department.

The plans for the old church sparked five objections from residents, but also four letters of support and a letter of approval from Melrose Community Council.

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One objector, Sam Whiting of Tweedmouth Road, Melrose, wrote: “There is insufficient parking for this and the other uses of the site – especially taking account of visitors to the residents of the new facility.

“The building will dwarf surrounding properties with views into the houses and gardens which will invade privacy.”

The proposals were heard at a meeting of the local authority’s planning and building standards committee, held on Monday, October 5.

Councillors heard how the developer submitted revised plans, following concerns raised by councillors at an earlier meeting regarding the number of parking spaces for residents.

Originally, the developer had listed 15 spaces for residents, and 20 for the gym, but in response to councillors’ comments the number of spaces for the apartments was increased to 18.

Although planning officers wanted at least 19 spaces reserved for residents, they still recommended that councillors approve the proposals.

Principal road planning officer Derek Inglis told councillors sitting on the committee: “Tweedmount Road, which is adjacent to the development’s exit, is a quiet cul de sac and there’s quite a bit of on street parking available.

“So I had a wee look on an evening, when residents of Tweedmount Road were home, to see where they were parking and how much parking was left that could potentially become overspill parking when there is high demand.

“I reckon that there is very little parking at the start of Tweedmount Road, a bit in the middle, and very little towards the end.

“It was quite comfortable you could probably fit about 12 cars on street, on the road without disrupting traffic.”

Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton told the committee: “I think all in all this is a positive development. It will use a building and will develop an area of Melrose into something which is a convivial use for the village.

“I’m happy to support this, albeit slightly reserved.”

Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson said: “I did take on board at the last meeting regarding the parking, and had a look at Tweedmount Road myself as there were concerns raised.

“I noted that most of the residences there had a driveway or a garage attached which limits the parking.

“I feel there is enough parking overflow there should it be needed, but you’d hope people going to the gym would be walking or running there, given it is in an urban location.

“I’m reasonably in favour of this, with some small reservations.”

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the proposals.