Community supporting a green light for a ‘Blue House’ conversion

A Berwickshire community is rallying to support the transformation of a derelict farm building known locally as the ‘Blue House’ into a much-needed family home.
The Reston planning bid has won the support of the community council.The Reston planning bid has won the support of the community council.
The Reston planning bid has won the support of the community council.

A planning bid has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council to convert and extend a former agricultural store located near Swansfield Farm at Reston in Eyemouth into a “sustainable, off-grid dwelling house”.

Dubbed the ‘Blue House’ the structure was a dwelling house in the 19th century before being converted for agricultural use, although now it is in a state of disrepair.

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The applicant, Graeme Forsysth, had a previous planning bid to convert the property refused last year after the proposal was deemed “not be in keeping with the character and scale of the existing building”.

The applicant has now re-evaluated the proposal and drawn up a design that attempts to meet the requirements of the council’s Local Development Plan.

The plans with required reductions were presented to Reston Community Council on Monday, May 15.

And during a long detailed discussion it was clear all members of the community council, as well as members of Reston Village Hall Committee and members of the public, unanimously agreed to support the planning application.

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East Berwickshire councillor James Anderson is also firmly in support of the bid as it adds a family home to the location and not another holiday home, which, he says, are “having a detrimental effect on housing stock”.

He said: “It was strongly felt the application ensured a family home would be added to the area, instead of a holiday home as suggested by SBC planners, in correspondence that was read out in the meeting.

“The application clearly showed no additional pressures were to be put on the existing utilities and infrastructure. As an off grid property Blue House would be perfectly situated in the area. Developed by existing residents it would put no extra pressures on services like doctors and dentists.

“I have received no objections or negative comments from anyone in the local area, therefore fully support the application as amended.

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“I would hope planning would look at the scale of the land owned and compare the scale of the proposed property to that of the two-acre site.

“It is imperative that in an area where holiday home ownership is having a detrimental effect on housing stock and the ability of local residents to afford a home of their own, we do not add to the problem by enabling yet another holiday home to be developed if this application was to not approved.

“Without approval it is very clear Blue House would end up a derelict site or a holiday home, which must be seen as unacceptable when a local couple want to invest in a family home.”

A report submitted with the application, from Berwick upon Tweed-based Yeoman Architecture, says: “The applicants propose to demonstrate and fully implement off-grid living within the Scottish Borders, by creating an energy efficient, low carbon and highly insulated family home on a rural site, which will include the conversion of the existing building located on-site and integrating a traditionally-designed extension, which will form a family dwelling.

“The applicants have fully considered the shortfalls of the previous planning application and sought to address the areas of contention.”