Plans to demolish garages in Oxton to make way for four homes in Oxton have been approved despite objections from neighbours of the site.
Scottish Borders Housing Association is planning on building two pairs of semi-detached houses at Heriotfield, Oxton, but it has faced opposition from residents of nearby Justice Park fearful that the new development will overlook their homes.
Its application has sparked nine objections, citing loss of privacy and impact on local amenities, and a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee on Monday heard representations from the objectors.
Ben Redman, of Justice Park, spoke on behalf of the neighbours, saying: “The Oxton community does not support this proposal.
“The community council has voted unanimously to reject the proposal, and many residents who weren’t consulted by Scottish Borders Council have also told us they object.
“The developers are attempting to make space for the development rather than make the development fit the space.
“The site itself is at least one metre higher than the properties in Justice Park.
“The development will tower over the bungalows in Justice Park, resulting in considerable overlooking of properties both at Justice Park and Heriotfield and loss of light to our properties, including several homes with solar panels.
“Residents are angry at the proposal, which involves both loss of green space and loss of amenities due to the demolition of the garages.”
Association chief executive Julia Mulloy also appeared before the committee, and she told councillors that Oxton is crying out for affordable housing, explaining: “We own one unit of affordable housing in Oxton that was last let in 2009, and this application is about creating four more homes.
“We currently have over 4,000 people applying for our housing, and, in terms of local information, in Lauder, on average we receive around 35 bids per home.
“We believe that this will be higher for three-bedroom family homes as they are at a premium.
“The housing need in the Borders is challenging, and at the extreme we had 700 households last year that were homeless. This is one of many projects that ourselves and other housing associations are undertaking to improve the abundance of affordable homes in the Borders.”
In response to early criticism of the proposals, the housing association’s architect, London-based ECD Architects, moved the positions of the planned houses three metres away from Justice Park.
Taking that into account, planning officer Scott Shearer urged councillors to approve the development.
His report states: “The revised siting and design of the proposed development is considered to respect the character of the surrounding area and the amenity of neighbouring properties.”
Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison agreed, saying: “Taking everything into consideration, I’m reasonably happy with this and I’d move to accept the officer’s recommendation and approve.”
Councillors were in broad agreement and voted unanimously to approve the application.