Lauder housing estate given thumbs-up despite opposition

Land in Lauder earmarked for housing.
Land in Lauder earmarked for housing.

Proposals for a £4m new housing estate in Lauder have been given the thumbs-up despite opposition from neighbours of the planned development.

Members of Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee this week voted unanimously to approve an application from Persimmon Homes to build 38 new homes just north of Thirlestane Drive.

The York-based housing developer first submitted plans for the 2.78-acre site in June this year, but they met with criticism from residents concerned that the proposed number of houses – 38 – was too many and that pedestrian access would be unsafe.

Persimmon Homes subsequently revised its plans, improving pedestrian access.

Seven people have lodged objections to the development, with a further four expressing concerns, including Kimberly Shaw-Walker, of Thirlestane Drive.

She wrote: “The site is not suitable for the volume of houses proposed. Services cannot cope with the number of units proposed.

“Health services cannot cope with the increased number of residents as per the proposed application.

“The school cannot cope with the increased number of pupils the proposed development will bring into the community.

“The land was to be held for a community purpose and it has never been openly considered for any other use, and, to the best of my knowledge, that is still in place.

“How can this application even be considered if this is not yet one more strategic move by the council to set aside the community’s express wishes for financial and political gain?”

Lauderdale Community Council has also objected to the plans, citing the density of the development.

Its objection reads: “The developer’s proposal has too many houses. Scottish Borders Council’s local development plan puts the site capacity at 30. A 27% increase on this is clearly unacceptable.

“The scheme, as proposed, looks too dense and cluttered.”

Despite those objections, councillors voted to approve the application on Monday, although they did admit to having some reservations.

Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison said: “I must admit this is a huge improvement on the application’s design that came before, although there are still issues with density and the infrastructure of Lauder.

“However, it looks to me to be an infill development. I can’t see myself objecting to this in any way.”

Fellow Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson also spoke in favour of the development, reserving particular praise for the design of the road network, saying: “The issue does seem to be the density, but the layout is sensible.

“The road layout discourages boy-racers and white van drivers from parking on the road. I don’t have any objection to this.”

Kelso councillor Simon Mountford said: “I would be happier if the proposal was lower density, but this is a commercial development and they have to make a return on their investment.

“Looking at it on balance, I could live with it.”

Work is expected to get under way on the terraced, semi-detached and detached homes, offering two to five bedrooms, in February.

Jim Kirkpatrick, managing director of Persimmon’s east Scotland office at Bathgate in West Lothian, said: “We are delighted with the decision made by the planning committee to support our plans and look forward to delivering much-needed new homes that meet the needs of the local market.

“We work hard to deliver sites that offer everything a home-owner is looking for, from location, quality, value and accessibility to education options and leisure facilities.

“The site’s proximity to Edinburgh, mix of property types and being within the catchment area for Earlston High School, one of the best secondary schools in the area, are all positive factors for anyone looking for a quality new home in the Borders.”