Borders villagers fighting plans for four new houses at Oxton

Residents unhappy about plans to demolish houses at Heriotfield, Oxton, to make way for new housing.
Residents unhappy about plans to demolish houses at Heriotfield, Oxton, to make way for new housing.

Angry residents of a Borders village fear their privacy will be compromised – and they could even find themselves vulnerable to potential peeping Toms – if a social landlord’s bid to demolish garages to make way for affordable homes is approved.

Scottish Borders Housing Association has submitted a planning application to build four two-storey houses on an existing garage site at Heriotfield in Oxton.

That plan has angered many residents, particularly those living in Justice Park, close to the proposed new housing.

A series of objections to the application have been submitted to the council, citing the high density of the development and loss of amenity.

There are also concerns that the proposed properties will tower over houses in Justice Park, offering clear views into residents’ bedrooms and bathrooms.

Objectors have asked the housing association to reconsider the plan, also incorporating the formation of a concrete pad for a future community hub.

Justice Park residents say they accept the need for new social housing but suggest the land could be better used for bungalows or sheltered housing.

One of the objectors, William Loneskie, says: “Building the houses with a westerly outlook will result in a direct line of sight into the bedrooms of properties in Justice Park.

“This is unfair and a contravention of article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to privacy.”

Alex and Ben Redman add: “We moved to our property in 2017. We chose it for its bright and sunny character, relative privacy of the house and garden and the mix of housing in the neighbourhood.

“The ground floor of our property has six full-height floor-to-ceiling doors and windows in principal rooms. All would be directly overlooked.

“The first floor of the property has two bedrooms and a bathroom. Those would also be overlooked, as would our garden.”

Another objector, Carol Moore, says: “The proposed development site is approximately one metre higher than the ground level of our property, excacerbating any potential overlooking, loss of sunlight and surface run-off issues.

“Although roof heights of the proposed development are in line with the properties in Heriotfield, this does not detract from the fact that the windows will be facing windows of principal rooms of the properties in Justice Park.

“Residents recognise the need for social housing but believe that the association should reconsider its controversial plans to cram four houses into this particular compact area of land, which has been a much-used green space and vital amenity for village use and enjoyment over the years.”

The Selkirk-based housing association also recently raised the hackles of residents in Galashiels and Melrose by announcing similar garage demolition plans to make way for residential projects.

It’s part of the organisation’s attempt to make the best use of its assets to provide new affordable homes in the region.

The move to build five new homes on a garage plot and car parking site in Mossilee Road in Galashiels angered locals, and they have raised concerns over potential parking problems as a result.

A move to build eight flats on the site of 13 garages in St Dunstan’s Park in Melrose is also opposed, over fears it could create an access issue for emergency vehicles.

Amid the concerns over the Oxton development, Henry Coyle, director of assets and property services for the association, has agreed to meet concerned residents early in the new year.

He said: “Our housing needs analysis shows that there is considerable demand for affordable housing across the Borders and as buying is expensive, the association is looking to make the best use of the land it already owns.

“We appreciate it may be inconvenient for people to make alternative storage arrangements. However we feel that the creation of affordable housing is of paramount importance.”