Redevelopment plans for a former industrial yard in Newtown divided opinion at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee nearby this week.
Proposals to demolish two industrial buildings at the former Elder’s Yard, on land behind the Travis Perkin depot and Borders College campus, and build four homes there proved to be contentious.
Craigmount Properties’ application for permission in principle to build the homes there would have resulted in the loss of what some councillors see as valuable industrial land for Newtown.
East Berwickshire councillor Helen Laing said: “It’s contrary to the principle of protecting industrial land, and there is housing provision in the area.
“There is a loss of industrial land here, and I am not sure there is a need for this housing. The existing business may have to close or relocate.”
The land, currently occupied by steel fabrication firm Oliver Engineering, is not specifically safeguarded for industrial use, but it has historically been used as such.
The village’s community council objected to the plans, claiming they would result in the loss of a thriving business and precious industrial land.
Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison agreed, adding: “I would like to support Newtown and Eildon Community Council here.
“There is no suitable sites in Newtown for them. Once a village loses its industries, it loses its reason for being there. It becomes a place where people just go to sleep.
“It’s not as if we are short on housing land. What we are short of is industrial land.
“That industrial land is something that Newtown may benefit more from in the future than four new houses.
“We are here to look at the bigger picture beyond the planning recommendations, and for that reason I am objecting to this.”
With half the committee happy with the recommendations to approve the plans and the other half insistent the land should be saved for industrial use, the vote went in favour of the objectors, thanks to a casting vote by the committee’s chairman, Leaderdale and Melrose councillor Tom Miers.
East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullerton, who seconded calls to approve the plans, said: “When you look at this site, you have got a large area of land not being used.
“Those buildings, in my mind, are of no architectural merit whatsoever. The idea of tidying this land up and making is housing is a merit.”