£154k ‘discount’ agreed as bid for 13 new homes in Borders village endorsed

The site in question at Newtown St Boswells.The site in question at Newtown St Boswells.
The site in question at Newtown St Boswells.
Developers aiming to flatten a prominent property in a Borders village and build 13 new family homes in its place have received a £154k ‘discount’ from the local authority.

Scottish Borders Council received a planning application in principle to demolish the Balgownie dwelling house at the southern end of Newtown St Boswells and construct three to five bedroom homes on the site.

As part of the application it was estimated that the applicant should pay £232,522 for contribution costs in respect of support for local schools, including Newtown St Boswells High School, and to the Borders Railway.

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But the applicants – L .Stevenson and L. Johnston and the executors of Margaret Loudon – argued that a request for such an amount would render any development not economically viable and suggested a figure of £32,500 instead, because of limited profit margins and the current market values.

The District Valuer was consulted on the request and suggested instead a contribution of £78k towards those costs was more appropriate, which the developer then agreed.

That discount was endorsed when members of the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee met today, Monday, December 5 – although not all members were supportive.

Hawick and Hermitage’s Councillor Jane Cox said: “The developer is saying the contributions would have to be reduced to £32,500 and then they agreed to pay £78,000, just like that, whereas I think £232,552 would have been payable. I can’t work out why the contributions went from £232k to £78k, I’m not happy with that at all I’m afraid. Why can’t they afford £232k if they’re selling 13 houses?”

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Members were told that the development contribution could be increased through a ‘claw back’ clause if the developer makes more than anticipated profits from the sale of the properties.

The committee also gave approval in principle for the proposed development, although again concerns were expressed.

Mid-Berwickshire’s Councillor Donald Moffat said: “Most people would like to have three and five bedroom houses for families in an area. I pass this site every time I come into here and I think it would be great to have housing on that site but the question I have is whether it is affordable housing that people can afford and also if there is any rented housing. Often we get housing schemes built that are outwith what people locally can afford.

“I would like to think that these houses can be built and local people can afford them. There’s a question mark in my mind about this.”

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