Controversial Melrose housing plans put on hold

Plans to build a new housing estate at the foot of the Eildon Hills have been put on hold following a public outcry.

Land off Dingleton Road in Melrose being eyed up for development.
Land off Dingleton Road in Melrose being eyed up for development.

Rural Renaissance, the contracting arm of property developer JS Crawford, submitted plans to Scottish Borders Council to build 26 homes on the Croft, off Dingleton Road in Melrose, in November.

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

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

However, the plans have come in for fierce criticism from the Don’t Build on the Eildons campaign group, and it has raised concerns over traffic, impact on the landscape and increased pressure on schools and services.

Craig Miller, the council’s chief planning officer, has written to the Melrose-based developer outlining concerns of its own and ones voiced by residents, and it’s asking for responses on 13 issues.

The planning process will now be put on hold while the council waits for answers, meaning that a decision on the proposals might not be made before March.   

Campaign group member Greg Simpson said: “With the costs of getting their plans before the council escalating, the developer is now being asked to go back to the drawing board on around a third of the 26 houses proposed.

“Many of the concerns and issues raised by Mr Miller have been known by the developer since June, according to freedom-of-information requests filed by our campaign.

“The council’s landscape architect flagged up the problems with large two-storey houses dominating the view.

“In September, the ecology officer warned the developer about the presence of great crested newts, an endangered species protected by law.

“With local objections to the Croft proposals continuing to pour in, the pressure on the developer is now significant.

“Will they sign up to the revised timescale or will delays increase even further?”

So far, the council has received 114 objections to the plans, and Melrose Community Council has also registered concerns about the development.