COUNCILLORS have overruled the recommendation of one of their own officials to reject a controversial housing development in Peeblesshire, writes Kenny Paterson.
Ian Brown proposed building two homes on land near his Thornbank home in the village of Broughton.
But almost three years after the application was originally submitted, SBC’s planning committee decided to side with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) who believed the site was at risk of flooding, instead of its flood protection engineer Duncan Morrison, who accepted the proposal.
Other concerns related to road safety, designs of the houses and impact on the historical former railway line to Peebles which runs through the site.
Tweeddale West councillor Nathaniel Buckingham said: “This site was never going to be an easy place to build houses given the geography and the proximity to the burn.
“Whilst a considerable engineering effort had been made to overcome the inherent difficulties, the committee was not convinced that the disturbance to the flood plain would not impact other houses nearby – SEPA continued to object on this point.
“Also the tricky junction with the main road and the rather bland designs added to the committee rejecting the proposals.”
Initially, SEPA did not object to the application having based its verdict on inaccurate figures surrounding the shape and features of the land.
A SEPA spokesman said: “Once we had received corrected topographic information, it became clear that the site of the planning application was at risk of flooding and furthermore the mitigation proposed to reduce this risk was likely to increase flood risk to nearby housing.”
Among 25 objections made to the proposal was one from Lord Stewartby, the former Conservative MP who lives in the village. Writing to SBC, he said: “My wife and I remain of the view that there should be a presumption against development on the railway line.”
Upper Tweed Railway Paths group, who hope to create a multi-use track on old lines in the area, also feared the development would affect a key bridge on the former train route.
And Upper Tweed Community Council added its voice to the dissenters, with its concerns based on access to the site from the A701.
Chairman Christopher Lewin wrote: “Larger delivery vehicles (both during construction and later) would have to be parked on the main road, particularly during icy weather when the steep ramp to and from the site would be difficult to negotiate.
“Other vehicles approaching from the north and wanting to overtake the parked vehicle would then not be able to see oncoming traffic.”