Virtual site visit set for Kirk Yetholm house plan

Scottish Borders Councillors are set to carry out a virtual site visit in Kirk Yetholm in order to progress a planning application.

By Kirsty Smyth
Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 9:52 am
Kirk Yetholm.
Kirk Yetholm.

Members of the local review body agreed to use video footage taken by a planning officer in the absence of an in-person site visit after they were asked to review refusal of an application to build a house in garden grounds at Clifton Cottage in the High Street.

Although councillors have been holding virtual meetings via Microsoft teams since the onset of the pandemic, this will be the first time they have gone digital for a site visit.

Officers had concluded that the proposed three-bedroom property would harm the character and amenity of the street and have an adverse impact on the conservation area.

Members of the local review body decided to visit the site after applicants Mr and Mrs Morrison lodged an appeal in June.

However Nuala McKinlay, the council’s chief legal officer, said that things had changed from a covid perspective since that decision was taken.

Speaking at a meeting of the local review body on Monday, she told members: “If there was to be an unaccompanied site visit it would not only be the members attending. It would be a planning officer, a legal advisor, a clerk – it would be a fairly significant gathering of people on site.

“Rather than that, one possible thing to consider would be to invite someone to attend at the locus and to take video recording of the site that could be presented to you at a future meeting. That, in these times, could be considered to be a virtual site visit.”

A planning officer will visit the village in due course to take a video recording, which may include a marker at the site showing the ridge height of the property.

Both the applicant and objectors to the scheme will be given the opportunity to suggest points in the village from which recordings should included.

The footage will then be shown at a hearing session of the local review body and other interested parties, when a dispute between the applicant and objectors over the proposed height will also be explored.

East Berwickshire Councillor Jim Fullarton said: “I asked for a site visit on the premise that some people won’t know Kirk Yetholm well.

“After discovering that at over 70 I am high risk for Covid, I really respect the view of the officers that the virtual visit is a way forward and I am looking forward to it.”