Galashiels joinery workshop facing closure threat

Redburn Garage in Galashiels.
Redburn Garage in Galashiels.

A joiner could be forced to cease trading after converting a disused Galashiels garage into a workshop without planning permission.

Daniel Howard, a director of Kilnknowe Caravan Park in Wood Street in Galashiels, bought the former Redburn Garage, on the A72 Galashiels-to-Peebles road and has been operating a furniture repair and sale workshop there.

The garage, once known as Bruce Motors, had been closed for several years, and Mr Howard believes his business has the potential to create up to 25 jobs.

After beginning to operate his business from the site, Mr Howard applied for retrospective planning permission from Scottish Borders Council.

However, planners rejected his proposals, saying the business is having a detrimental effect on the character and visual amenity of the area and that Mr Howard has not demonstrated that there are no alternative sites available closer to the town centre.

He has appealed to the council’s local review body against that thumbs-down, and councillors will give their verdict when they meet on Monday, March 18.

In his appeal statement to the review body, Mr Howard writes: “I believe I have transformed a failing site with no future use prospects into individual units creating jobs and increasing revenue in rates and taxes.

“I have requested a site visit so that the local review body can see that this joinery workshop is no more detrimental to the character and amenity of the area than a garage workshop.

“Added to this point is that as a joinery workshop, it is less of a noise or spillage pollutant than the former garage was.

“It is hard to see how it can be conceived as so different to a garage? Anyone looking in would see a joiner or a mechanic – is that enough of a difference to refuse the application?

“Change of use has been permitted in many previous cases, and rightly so. If we did not encourage change, we would still be living in caves.”

Mr Howard’s arguments have not swayed principal planning officer Carlos Clarke as he recommends that councillors reject the application and force him to cease trading from the premises.

He writes: “Aspects of the development are acceptable, subject to conditions, particularly to rationalise the number and appearance of the various small structures proposed.

“However, the joiner’s workshop and retail sales would be contrary to the local development plan, and this conflict is not overridden by other considerations.

“As these elements form a significant part of the development proposal, it would not be appropriate to delete them from a prospective consent by condition.

“Ultimately, therefore, the application should be refused because of the proposed retail and joiner’s workshop’s conflicts with council planning policy.

“The proposed joiner’s workshop would be contrary to the local development plan in that there is inadequate justification for the proposed use on this site, which is not located within an allocated employment, mixed-use or redevelopment area and would be potentially detrimental to the character and amenity of the surrounding area.

“The proposed retail use would also be contrary to the local development plan in that the site is not within the town centre and it is not been demonstrated that there are no sequentially preferable sites closer to or within the town centre or that the proposed development would not detract from the vitality and viability of the town centre, and because the visual impact of the retail use proposed would be detrimental to the character of the surrounding area.

“Other material considerations do not outweigh this conflict.”

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