Parking fears fail to stop Kelso flats bid

Kelso shopping. Woodmarket. Town centre.
Kelso shopping. Woodmarket. Town centre.

Plans to build two blocks of 18 affordable rented flats in Kelso have been approved this week, despite concerns that the development will exacerbate parking problems in the town centre.

“Parking in Kelso is now diabolical,” said John Morton, chairman of the Kelso branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland, in an objection to the planning bid by the Eildon Housing Association.

The club lies close to the temporary car park in Roxburgh Street on which Eildon was seeking consent to build a three-storey block of 12 one and two-bedroom flats.

Also included in the planning bid was a block of six two-bedroom flats in the nearby Union Street car park and an area of vacant back land accessed off Bowmont Street.

These properties will be acquired by Bridge Homes, a limited liability partnership run by Scottish Borders Council, for mid-market rent.

SBC’s planning committee, which considered the bid for the three linked sites on Monday, heard there had been eight objections.

Mr Morton claimed the Roxburgh Street car park, occupied by up to 18 vehicles during the day, was full to capacity at night with members and guests of his club.

He said The Square was full of parked cars by early morning and the loss of the car park would “make matters worse”.

Kelso Community Council also objected, its secretary Shirley Redgrave voicing concerns over the density of the development, the extra traffic it would generate and the knock-on adverse effect on town centre parking.

And local resident Catherine Middleton questioned the need for such housing.

“There are too many empty properties already in the town and having more unoccupied flats whilst we are desperate for adequate parking seems ludicrous in the extreme,” she wrote.

But local planning officer Barry Fotheringham recommended approval.

“It is regrettable that public parking will be lost, but the existing arrangements have always been considered temporary since the original buildings were demolished,” he stated.

“It is considered the proposed development is acceptable and in accordance with policies relating to infill development, conservation areas and the protection of residential amenity.

“It is contended the development will have a positive effect on the street scene.”

The committee unanimously approved the application, subject to the conclusion of a legal deal with the applicants for a financial contribution to improve local play facilities.