Councillors make pledge to protect Gala Policies from any bid to put a road through it
Five concerned Scottish Borders councillors have united in a pledge to block any bid to put a road through a much-loved Galashiels woodland.
As part of the council’s local development plan a masterplan is to consider potential road access to a proposed new housing development at Hollybush in Galashiels.
That has led to concerns that a road could go right through nearby Gala Policies community woodland.
It’s a possibility vehemently opposed by the local Gala Policies Group.
Now five elected members have written to the group giving their unequivocal assurance that they would bid to block any such move.
The joint statement comes from council convenor David Parker, alongside Galashiels and district councillors Andy Anderson, Sandy Aitchison, Euan Jardine and Harry Scott.
They say that when the proposed local development plan comes back to elected members for discussion later this year, they will move an amendment to reject the proposed road and rule out the proposition.
The statement adds “A masterplan does not mean that development will happen because the masterplan is an assessment/study.
"It will be conducted by planning officers but it is subject to widespread and detailed consultation.
"The currently proposed masterplan of Hollybush highlights that an assessment should be carried out to look at a road through the Gala Policies but as local councillors we completely reject this proposition and will ensure that when the proposed masterplan is next discussed, the Hollybush masterplan will only be allowed to proceed on the basis that vehicular access can not be taken via the Gala Policies.
“It is our view that if an assessment was done to look at a road through the Gala Polices, that assessment would conclusively demonstrate that such a road could never be approved or granted permission on the grounds of environmental impact.
“However, even considering a road through the Gala Policies is completely unacceptable to us as councillors, and clearly to the local community.
“The fight to save the Gala Policies from development was won in the mid 1990’s. “The Policies have become established as a fantastic environmental asset to Galashiels and the Scottish Borders and they should be preserved as such for future
generations to enjoy.”
The support is a boost to the Gala Policies Group in its continued fight to protect the woodland.
Group chair Jill Forsyth said: “We are very pleased that the five Gala councillors have now decided, in light of growing opposition to the Local Development Plan road suggestion, to lend their support to rejecting the proposition.
“We, as a group would like to thank all those many people who rallied round the recent Facebook campaign and submitted their objections to Scottish Border Council planning department - a magnificent response to a highly controversial road proposal which very few people had been aware of.
“The Policies have been a godsend for so many over the last year - a invaluable calming space for exercise during the chaos and uncertainty.”