Planning committee gives the green light to former allotments housing

DESPITE a raft of objections, councillors this week upheld a recommendation from planning officials that approval be granted for the controversial construction of 18 new houses on disused overgrown garden allotments in Kelso.

Scottish Borders Council planning committee, meeting on Monday, gave its consent to the application for the new homes, which will be built on the former Abbotsford grove allotments, at the rear of the town’s Lidl supermarket, by Eildon Housing Association.

Planning permission was previously granted in 2009 to developers, CWP, which wanted to build 18 new homes on the site but the consent was never formally issued as a legal agreement remained outstanding.

Eildon intends erecting eight semi-detached, six terrraced and four flats on the site.

Among the nine objections, which included eight letters from individual households, were complaints that the development would see too many properties constructed for the size of site, it will lead to traffic problems and a resulting increased hazard for pedestrians in Abbotsford Grove and that the design of the new homes would be inappropriate for the conservation area concerned.

The just over one hectare site was originally sold a number of years ago by the 20 joint owners of the allotments, sparking a hunt to find suitable replacement ground.

After a campaign to locate new allotment land, the Duke of Roxburghe came to the rescue, agreeing to lease part of a field near the racecourse to the Kelso Allotment Society with enough space for 30 plots.

Speaking at Monday’s planning meeting, local Kelso councillor, Simon Mountford (Con), said he was very happy with the proposals, as they would see the reclaiming of an area of what was now waste ground.

“The new houses will also screen the back of the Lidl supermarket which is pretty unsightly,” Mr Mountford added.

“The courtyard development which is proposed is attractive and will at least be tucked away behind Abbotsford Grove and Hermitage Lane and will be discreet.”

Among the 17 conditions attached to the consent, is that an archaeological evaluation be carried out, after it came to light that the site could contain archaeology relating to the nearby ruined medieval abbey.