Decision on planned retirement housing complex in Melrose put on hold
Developer Rural Renaissance wants to knock down the old church in Melrose’s West Grove, just off Waverley Road, and build retirement apartments in its place.
The Melrose-based devloper’s plans for the old church have sparked five objections from residents but also four letters of support, and they’ve also been given Melrose Community Council’s blessing.
Writing in objection to the plans, Susan Logan, of Tweedmouth Road, says: “The overall height of the proposed structure is very concerning.
“We basically live next door and the closer you are to something, does it not look bigger?
“At the moment, we can see the proposed gym wall and the gable end of the existing building. After looking at the plans of the new building, it seems as if most of its roof will be clearly visible, spoiling what we have at the present time – a nice view.”
Another objector, Sam Whiting, also of Tweedmouth Road, writes: “There is insufficient parking for this and the other uses of the site, especially taking account of visitors to the residents of the new facility.
“The building will dwarf surrounding properties with views into houses and gardens which will invade privacy.”
Those proposals were put to a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee held online yesterday, September 7, but it failed to come to a conclusion.
Appearing on behalf of the developer, Gavin Yuill, of Galashiels-based Camerons Strachan Yuill Architects, told the committee: “This proposal has been developed as a proposed gateway development for Melrose, a development that not only revitalises and contributes to the area of Waverley Road but will also address the need of the community in the provision of retirement housing.
“The design aims to create a sense of place through a modern interpretation of the best qualities and form of the former congregational church building, which is no longer fit for purpose.
“The principal aim of the proposal is to integrate the development within the existing streetscape by creating a new public green space in Waverley Road and structure the landscape plans in common with the surrounding area, along with a modern gateway building that reflects the scale and design of the surrounding properties.”
Councillors were generally supportive of the proposed development but all raised concerns about the number of parking spaces suggested.
The plans include just 16 parking spaces for residents, to serve 14 housing units, and 24 parking spaces for use by the gym and health spa.
Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton said: “It’s obviously a great project, and the design that has been produced here does reflect a lot of what the original character is. In that respect, I’m not concerned with the overlooking aspect.
“The big issue here is the parking. Obviously, we all drive cars and we all understand that when you go to a destination, you want to be as near as possible in your parking, so with 16 spaces I can envision some issues.
“I’m not necessarily convinced that there’s an adequate alternative.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage aagreed, saying: “I’m really impressed with the building. I love the nod to the old church, and obviously there is a need for retirement housing.
“My big concern is the parking and the fact that I’m not sure whether the gym and health spa will be open to the public.
“If there were more than 20 members of the gym, can they park there? Will it overspill into the spaces for the flats? It might force the people in the flats to park on the street.”
Councillors asked planning officers what conditions they could impose when granting planning permission to control the number of parking spaces to be made available but no definitive answer was forthcoming.
A review of the proposals was postponed until the next meeting of the committee – due to be held on Monday, October 5 – to give officers time to come up with an answer to that query.
It was originally proposed that the new building be made up of 20 apartments for occupants aged over 55but that was reduced by six in response to concerns raised at two public consultation meetings held in February ahead of the application going in the month after.