Concerns raised over size of proposed Bonchester Bridge home

A decision on whether to overturn a previous rejection of plans for a new home near Bonchester Bridge has been put on hold.

By Kathryn Wylie
Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 10:50 am
Land North West Of Town O Rule Farmhouse, Bonchester Bridge.
Land North West Of Town O Rule Farmhouse, Bonchester Bridge.

Jamie Reddihough had his plans for a house and stand-alone garages on land at Town o’ Rule Farm rejected by council planners in November as they felt its design would not sit well with existing buildings there or comply with planning policies.

Mr Reddihough, a director of Rule Valley Simulated Game near Denholm, appealed against that refusal, but Scottish Borders Council chief planning officer John Hayward advised the authority’s local review body not to overturn that thumbs-down at its meeting on Monday.

He said: “I am not supportive of the planning application and would recommend that it is refused on account of its incongruous design, its unacceptably adverse landscape and visual impacts and its impacts upon the character and setting of the building group at Town o’ Rule.

“The lack of any appropriate assessment of its impacts upon bats is also only reasonably included amongst the reasons for refusal.”

A bat survey, yet to be studied by council officers, has since been received, but councillors said they cannot make a decision on the appeal until it has been assessed.

They did, though, go on to raise some concerns about the proposed house design.

“I’m a little stuck with this,” Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton said. “There is scope for a house there, based on the previous approval, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this house is the right scale or size.

“Ecologically it is great, and that’s a positive, but I’m not sold on the design.”

Kelso councillor Simon Mountford, however, was happy to back the proposals, saying: “The main new building will certainly be dominant. The issue is whether it will be overly dominant.

“It seems to me that the scale of the new house is in keeping with the rest of the new development.

“In itself, a two-storey building is not unduly big.

“I do understand the officers’ concerns about dominance, but within the wider landscape I am not concerned that this is going to be too big.”

Tweeddale West councillor Eric Small agreed, adding: “The farm buildings there have served their purpose, and I quite see why they would want to see a new farmhouse there. I would want to overturn the officers’ decision.”

Planning permission in principle had previously been granted for the site in 2015, the meeting heard.

Mark Russell, of Newcastle-based agent Ethical Planning North East, said: “The applicant considers that he has succeeded in being able to now put forward a proposal for a modern family house which demonstrates the necessary respect for the site and the traditional buildings therein and the surrounding area.”

“This combined with the applicant’s commitment to utilise renewable technologies including use solar photo voltaic panels and wind and ground source heat pumps, all of which would be fully integrated into the proposed scheme means that the proposal has the potential to be an exemplar proposal within the Scottish Borders.”