Objectors win the day as councillors reject Midlem house plan

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A MIDLEM resident’s bid to build a new house in his own garden ground was rejected this week.

The planning committee of Scottish Borders Council voted on Monday to refuse the application from James Purves for a two-storey detached home, with timber cladding and slate roof, next to his property at Braidlea at the northern end of the village.

Five neighbours, along with Lilliesleaf, Ashkirk and Midlem Community Council, had objected to the proposal.

Local planning officer Scott Shearer, however, recommended approval, subject to a range of conditions, including the installation of obscure-glazed windows to minimise the loss of privacy to Audrey Power, who lives at Trimontium View to the south of the Townhead site.

That stipulation, alone, meant the planning application could not be supported, claimed Selkirkshire councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre.

“This is the third attempt to put a house on this small site just outside the village conservation area, and both previous ones have been rejected,” said Mrs Riddell-Carre.

“Midlem has an attractive Anglo Saxon layout of houses which are nicely spaced, but shoehorning this house into such a restricted space is certainly not compatible. In addition it would add at least an extra vehicle emerging from the existing lane to a blind corner on the road north to Selkirk.”

Her views chimed with those of the objectors, including Ms Power, who claimed the new house would invade her privacy with some of the windows looking directly onto her daughter’s bedroom.

Neighbours Roger and Alison Bacon of Braeside Cottage also cited loss of privacy and the adverse impact on the character and appearance of the adjoining conservation area.

The couple, who are both doctors, took issue with the description of the plot as “disused land”.

They stated: “This is disingenuous in that the land is part of the applicant’s garden which he has walled off and continues to use as a children’s play area, complete with trampoline, and grazing land for sheep. If it is disused, it is because he has deliberately allowed it to become so.”

Writing on behalf of the community council, chairman David Macdonnell said the initial intention of development in this area was to build on the site of the demolished barn at Townhead – now developed as Trimontium View – and to erect a single house to the rear. This entailed extending the settlement boundary to accommodate one new plot.

He stated: “In practice, development of this area as proposed would result in a new property with very limited garden ground which will have the effect of making surrounding properties look highly congested.”

However, Mr Shearer urged approval, believing the proposal “appropriate infill development that will not adversely impact upon the character and appearance of the site”.

Councillor Jim Hume also supported the application. “This is clearly a gap site and even the village conservation area hosts a variety of different plot sizes,” he told the meeting.

However, he believed the timber cladding would be out of kilter with other houses in Midlem which tended to be rendered and whitewashed. If this was a condition of consent, he was happy to support the proposal.

But on a division, Mrs Riddell-Carre’s motion to reject the bid was carried by seven votes to three.