Plans for 64-home estate at Newtown recommended for thumbs-up

Sergeants Park in Newtown.
Sergeants Park in Newtown.

Plans for a new 64-home housing estate are being recommended for approval despite concerns over a lack of school places needed to meet the expected influx of children it would bring.

Edinburgh firm Hart Builders has submitted an application to Scottish Borders Council to build the affordable properties north of Sergeants Park in Newtown on behalf of Selkirk-based Eildon Housing Association.

Members of the council’s planning and building standards committee are being recommended to approve the plans at their meeting next week.

That is despite concerns being voiced over the density of the development, allegations of poor design and a lack of school places available to meet the needs of the anticipated influx of school-age children the estate would generate.

The proposals have also met with opposition from Newtown and Eildon Community Council, and it is calling on the developer to contribute more money towards community life, aside from “token funds to cover additional playground equipment”.

In a report to the committee, council planner Scott Shearer addresses concerns over pressure on school places, saying: “The proposed development falls within the catchment area of Newtown St Boswells Primary School and Earlston High School.

“It is calculated that, based on the amount of dwellings proposed, the total number of pupils likely to be generated by this development would increase the number of pupils at both schools to near their full capacities.

“While this development may not leave either of the schools with much additional future capacity, importantly the schools currently have the capacity to accommodate the numbers predicted by this development.”

Mr Shearer also believes concerns over a potential lack of healthcare provision locally could be addressed if the development, to be built on a 2.5-hectare site to the west of Newtown Primary School, is approved.

He explained: “The prospect of the closure of Eildon doctors’ surgery has been raised through the course of the planning application.

“However, it is pertinent to note that should this application be approved, it would increase the population of the local community which may increase the business case for the retention of the Eildon surgery.”

The committee is to meet at the council’s headquarters in Newtown at 10am on Monday, January 7.