Objectors out in force to oppose Melrose housing plans

Objectors at the site of the proposed development off Dingleton Road, Melrose.
Objectors at the site of the proposed development off Dingleton Road, Melrose.

Plans to build a new housing estate at the foot of the Eildon Hills came in for unanimous criticism at this week’s meeting of Melrose Community Council.

Rural Renaissance, part of Melrose-based property developer JS Crawford, has drawn up proposals for 26 homes at the Croft, off Dingleton Road in Melrose.

The plans, drawn up by Glasgow-based Hypostyle Architects, are for 19 houses with three bedrooms and seven with four bedroom homes, of which four are bungalows and the rest are two-storey houses.

The development, if approved, would encircle the existing nursery building there.

However, on Wednesday, around 30 members of a campaign group opposing the development turned out at the community council’s meeting at the Ormiston Institute to voice their objections.

Carrie Henderson, who runs the campaign’s Facebook page with her partner Greg Simpson, told councillors: “As of this evening, 66 people have submitted objections to the council over plans to build a housing estate on the Croft.

“There were no submissions in support of the application from members of the public.

“The vast majority of people who have responded to the council’s consultation have expressed their surprise, disappointment and outrage at the very idea the Croft is a suitable site for development, lying as close as it does to the foothills of the Eildons.

“The view of the Eildon Hills over Melrose is an iconic one, not only in the Borders but across Scotland. The hills are as much a part of the town as the rugby club and the abbey.”

The site has been allocated for housing in Scottish Borders Council’s local development plan since 2006, but the objectors say that Melrose has changed beyond recognition in the interim and traffic problems and pressures on local amenities mean the site is no longer suitable.

The group also claims that allowing building on the south side of Dingleton Road will inevitably lead to more development there.

Ms Henderson added: “We have every reason to be glad of the stunning scenery of the Eildons. It is a jewel in the crown of the Borders landscape.

“We should be actively looking for ways to celebrate what is a precious and historic site and securing it for future generations to enjoy.

“Instead, the very opposite is happening and the council is asking us to accept the building of a generic, characterless housing estate on its lower slopes.

“It will inevitably set a precedent for building on the south side of Dingleton Road.

“It will make future development both likely and more difficult to argue against.

“We do need to think about what is best for the town, and that can often lead to difficult decisions having to be swallowed, but I would ask you to consider whether the town, and its inhabitants, would benefit more from the future of the nursery being secured and the site being kept as green space to be enjoyed by visitors and residents alike or the alternative – the Croft being turned into yet another anonymous housing estate.”

That statement met with rapturous applause and as no representative of the developer was present to resspond, the floor was opened to other objectors.

Dingleton Road resident Quin Dunlop said: “I would like to emphasise about the traffic. It is a nightmare getting in and out of our property.

“We have to either get my wife to stand in the road to get traffic to stop and let us out or wait until we can see someone coming down the hill so we know that someone can’t be coming up it.

“The number of cars that do not belong to Dingleton Road residents is large.

“I oppose this development strongly because of the traffic problems.”

Fellow local resident John Henderson believes that heavy lorries using the road would be a safety hazard, saying: “There are issues around land-moving as well. The amount of landscaping works needed will be astronomical.

“Dingleton Road is an area waiting for a very serious accident to happen. Cars have mounted the pavement because of others coming down the road and having to take evasive action.

“There is nothing at all in the plans saying what will happen there.

“We need to look at these things before approval is given.”

The application is set to go before the council’s planning and building standards committee in the near future, but it won’t be discussed by councillors until at least January.