Angry homeowners call for planners to see the light and change policy

L-r, Bill Snedden, Cllr Gavin Logan and neighbour Henry Sommerville at Bill's home in Clovenfords which is overlooked by a new housing scheme by Barrat Homes.
L-r, Bill Snedden, Cllr Gavin Logan and neighbour Henry Sommerville at Bill's home in Clovenfords which is overlooked by a new housing scheme by Barrat Homes.

The new Barratts homes built at Vinery Park in Clovenfords are having an “unacceptable impact” on neighbouring Meigle Row, and planning policy on housing development must be reviewed.

That’s the view councillor Gavin Logan will be putting to Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee meeting today.

Cataloguing the problems now faced by residents, Cllr Logan told TheSouthern: “The new houses at Vinery Park are having an unacceptable impact on the residents of Meigle Row in Clovenfords. Not only is their amenity and privacy being compromised, but they will also have to accept that the value of their house will also be adversely affected. It is more than likely that their house will be a major part of their assets. It should also be borne in mind that there is a distinct possibility that these house may be more difficult to sell even at reduced values.”

Stuart Bell, secretary of Clovenfords and District Community Council, agreed.

“The lower row of the new Barratts housing has been built on elevated land so close to existing properties in Meigle Row that light has been taken from many back gardens, and some residents complain that the ground floor windows of the new houses look right into the upper bedroom windows of the existing properties.

“This presents an enormous intrusion, but the new houses have been built in accordance with plans which were recommended for approval by the officials and were fully approved by councillors at a planning committee meeting.”

“All that we’ve said and done to object, they’ve just steam rollered over the top of us,” complained Bill Sneddon, 70, a retired agricultural contractor wh like other residents of Meigle Row, vigorously opposed the planned development. “The new houses are standing right above us: their lower windows are higher than our bedrooms windows, so they can look straight in and through our houses. We’ll have to keep the curtains or screens drawn if we’re to have any privacy. I don’t think anybody would like to stay here. People have been wanting to sell their homes, but they won’t sell.”

Mr Sneddon, who has lived in Meigle Row for 39 years, is dismissive of builders’ attempts to redress his home’s loss of privacy. He said: “As far as the dividing fence goes, it’s a waste of money and time. I can see right above the top of the fence straight into the lower windows, and they can look down into ours. Many people want the fence down because the only thing it is doing is shading off the garden so it doesn’t get any light.

“In the house now we’ve no sunlight in the morning, and in the evening we have to put the lights on quite early. Twice in the day we’ve got to have extra lights on, which costs us more in electricity.”

And community councillor Bell asked: “How have we ended up with one row of houses towering over existing properties, and bounded by an apparently tall fence that actually affords little privacy? There are striking similarities between the Kingsknowes development and that in Clovenfords.”

Last week TheSouthern reported complaints made by residents of Kingsknowes Village in Galashiels, who claimed to be losing sunlight in their houses and gardens as a result of the new Heriot-Watt residential block.

“In both cases the neighbouring developments have been approved on upper sites on steeply sloping land,” Mr Bell continued, “and in both cases they are to the south of the existing properties and so steal their daylight.

“It is not clear that the policies which guide planning decisions adequately account for these aspects, which must be a common problem in towns and villages built in the steeply sloping Border valleys.

“Officials and councillors can claim that the approved plans have complied with Scottish Borders Council’s local planning Policy H2. But H2 is inadequate.

“In the two cases of Kingsknowes and Clovenfords, developments built in accordance with H2 have not protected the residential amenity of existing properties.”