Plans to build 45 houses near Sir Walter Scott’s home need to be dropped

Contentious plans to build 45 houses close to Sir Walter Scott’s home on the banks of the River Tweed need to be ditched, a Scottish Government planning reporter has ordered.
The field at Netherbarns, near Abbotsford.The field at Netherbarns, near Abbotsford.
The field at Netherbarns, near Abbotsford.

There were 500 objections to the proposal for the homes near to Abbotsford House.

Scottish Borders Council had included the land at Netherbarns, on the outskirts of Galashiels, in its new Local Development Plan.

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Trustees of the historic property warned that historic views were at risk of being “lost forever” under plans to build dozens of new homes on the other side of the River Tweed.

However, SBC stated that the current proposal for housing at Netherbarns was “materially different” to previous schemes that had been brought forward.

A statement issued by the local authority said: “The most notable difference is that this submission does not include housing in the section of the field closest to Abbotsford.

“The proposed housing would instead be in the topmost section of the site, set behind mature woodland, with additional planting also proposed to provide further screening”.

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But reporter Nick Smith and his team, who spent the best part of a year examining development sites across the Borders region, have concluded that even with additional mitigation measures a detrimental impact on Abbotsford might not be avoided.

Mr Smith has now ordered that SBC remove the proposed development from its LDP.

Typical of the condemnation because of the perceived threat to Scott’s home was the submission from Douglas Pringle, an attorney based in Wichita, Kansas, who is president of the wealthy K T Wiedemann Foundation.

The organisation has donated well over $150,000 to the Abbotsford Trust to help with restoration of the house and its outstanding collection of Scott’s books and artefacts.

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Mr Pringle told SBC in his objection letter on behalf of the Foundation: “The [Netherbarns] proposals have a highly negative impact on Abbotsford. It would be a pity to see this idyllic setting destroyed by this project”.

Meanwhile, Abbotsford chief executive Giles Ingram wrote: “We hope we can forestall the site’s inclusion in future LDPs by putting forward our case, now and forever, on the detrimental impact of a development at Netherbarns on Abbotsford, the jewel in the crown of the Borders”.