‘Don’t build on the Eildons’ campaign launched against Melrose housing development

Objectors at the site of the proposed deveopment at The Croft, Melrose.
Objectors at the site of the proposed deveopment at The Croft, Melrose.

Objectors to a proposed new housing development near Melrose have hit the ground running with a full-on campaign against the proposals.

Rural Renaissance, the contracting arm of Melrose-based JS Crawford property developers, submitted plans to Scottish Borders Council to build 26 homes on The Croft, near Dingleton Road, Melrose two weeks ago.

But already a ‘Don’t Build on the Eildons’ campaign has gathered almost 60 objections, by publicising the plans online and through door to door leaflet delivery.

The 6.3-acre site, currently grassland and home to Cherrytrees Nursery, is owned by JS Farming Partnership, the farming arm of JS Crawford and is set aside for housing in the latest local development plan.

But objectors claim the development should be refused on the grounds of traffic problems, impact on the landscape and increasing pressure on the school rolls.

Carrie Henderson, who started up the campaign said: “Local people are making their feelings very clear.

“I created the Facebook page so that we could spread the word about the development, because the council only informs residents that are nearby and I wanted to make sure that other people are aware too.

“It’s a small town and things like this do have an impact on everybody.”

The plans, drawn up by Glasgow-based Hypostyle Architects, are for 19 three-bedroom and seven four-bedroom homes, of which four are bungalows and the rest are two-storey houses.

The development, if approved, will circle around the existing nursery building there.

The application states: “The approach to development will be sympathetic to the local area in terms of density, scale and massing; being consistent with local planning policy to create a development that contributes to the local environmental quality.

“The proposals respond to the anticipated needs and aspirations of the future residents and provide a design solution of high quality and adaptability within the context of its unique setting.”

But Carrie, who has lived in Douglas Road with her young family, for four years, says road safety is one of the biggest issues for her.

“Crawfords are going to be making adjustments to the road adjacent to The Croft, but there’s other properties on Dingleton Road, where people park their cars.

“I walk my children to school using that road and you already get cars ducking in and out when its reduced to a single lane through parked cars.

“It can be quite chaotic. Imagine that with all those extra cars on the road too.”

Campaigners also say the development would spoil the landscape of the Eildon hills and the increase in family homes would put pressure on local schools, including an expected 16% rise in the roll at Melrose Primary.

“I would say the majority of people are against it, but that’s purely anecdotal,” Carrie added. “I think people are quite shocked about it and surprised that anyone would want to build there.

“Personally, I just couldn’t’ believe an area of land so close to the Eildon hills could even be considered for housing – and even more surprised that the council had allocated it for that use.

“It’s a really beautiful site but it’s a bit of a mess already. It’s really sad.”

Last week trees on the site were cut down, giving objectors further cause for concern.

“They can do whatever they like to the trees on their land, but it’s a shame if those trees were going to be used as screening should the plans go ahead.”

The plans, initially for 46 homes, went on show to the public in the Greenywards club rooms in January, after which the number of homes was reduced.

The campaign group will hold meet in the Ormiston Institute, Melrose this Wednesday, November 21 at 7.30pm.