It was a long time coming, but after years of to-ing and fro-ing it finally looked like the Scottish Ambulance Service was to be given a new home at Borders General Hospital, with a long-awaited £1.8million health centre being built on the service’s current site in Roxburgh Street, Galashiels.
But the move has again stalled after Scottish Borders Council’s landscape architect has called for the application on land north west of the hospital to be refused due to concerns about the effect on the nearby Eildon Hills National Scenic Area (NSA).
It appears that paramedics have also raised concerns in connection with the notorious BGH junction with the A6091 and the increase in the number of ambulances emerging onto the bypass.
While the fears of the ambulance service are understandable, the call from SBC’s landscape architect will no doubt leave many people, particularly in and around Melrose, speechless, considering the council appeared to pay scant regard to the Eildon Hills and their NSA status when the planning application came in for the Borders crematorium.
There is no doubt the crematorium was needed, but if planners in their wisdom permitted a private business to be built at the foot of the Eildons, despite public opposition, you have to question their thinking in this instance.
Of course any new build should work in harmony with both the BGH building and the landscape, but isn’t it a bit late to use the NSA excuse?
The danger to drivers’ safety is more pressing, but a rethink on the layout of this junction seems more appropriate, considering it continues to be a problem, even without the extra traffic.
The public are going to benefit both from a more centrally based ambulance service, and a new health centre. Instead of throwing everything out, planners should help find a workable solution to the problem. Then everyone wins.