Fury over plans to fell 46 trees in Peebles to make way for housing

Michael Marshall with other members of the Kingsmeadows campaign group. Photo: Bill McBurnie.Michael Marshall with other members of the Kingsmeadows campaign group. Photo: Bill McBurnie.
Michael Marshall with other members of the Kingsmeadows campaign group. Photo: Bill McBurnie.
A housing developer’s plan for new homes beside an 18th century Peebles mansion is facing an angry backlash over a bid to fell 46 mature trees in the process.

Scottish Borders Council has received an application from Edinburgh-based Granton Homes for 14 residential apartments in the grounds of Kingsmeadows House, on the south bank of the River Tweed.

For the homes to be built 46 trees at the site need to be felled.

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It is a prospect which horrifies many nature lovers with more than one hundred objection comments submitted to the local authority's planning portal.

The developer has pledged to carry out an extensive tree re-planting programme but that has failed to satisfy campaigners who are urging the council to reject the project.

Michael Marshall is one of those leading the campaign.

He said he was originally supportive of an application granted in 2021 to build a ten-home three-storey complex on the site.

But the new extended application is for a 14 apartment development on four floors and Mr Marshall says an earlier pledge to protect trees has been reneged on.

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He said: "What they said in the 2019 planning application, granted in 2021, sounded sustainable.

"They said they were going to put this in a spot that was free of mature trees and protect the rest of the estate, so my wife and I sent the one and only letter of support, but I've changed my mind on finding out what they are actually trying to do."

Granton Homes say 13 trees need to be felled to enable road construction and a further 33 to ensure the go-ahead of the apartment block itself.

The company also says that 206 new trees would be planted as part of the landscape design, including sycamore, oak, silver birch, rowan and limes, and that the objective of the development was to extend residential accommodation within the grounds of Kingsmeadows House and the estate, while at the same time creating a "green living environment that promotes healthy living and bio-diversity".

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Mr Marshall responded: "It's a 200 year-old forest, a living woodland. It's a completely different beast to a younger set of saplings. Three more bat roosts were found only yesterday.

"They only nest in old trees, that are kind of decaying and look horrible from our point of view but bats love living in them. That same thing goes for places for birds to drink. It's just a completely different beast and new planting doesn't make up for it."

A report submitted with the application by Edinburgh-based EMA architecture, on behalf of Granton Homes, says: "A tree survey was carried out for the site. This identifies the trees which are due to be removed to allow for new access and construction works.

"New tree planting will be included within the proposal to compensate for any tree loss that does occur on the site."