Game, set and match to neighbours objecting to plans to build homes on old tennis court in Peebles

People power has led to plans for a new housing development on woodland beside disused tennis courts in Peebles being dropped.

By Paul Kelly
Friday, 1st May 2020, 6:12 am
How houses proposed, but now withdrawn, on the Kingsmeadow Estate at Peebles would have looked.
How houses proposed, but now withdrawn, on the Kingsmeadow Estate at Peebles would have looked.

Granton Homes submitted a planning application to Scottish Borders Council at the beginning of last month for the construction of seven houses in a courtyard setting around a central garden on a site including a disused bowling green and tennis courts north east of the Lodge on the Kingsmeadows estate.

The Edinburgh-based company bought Kingsmeadows House in 2014 and wants to redevelop land formerly home to associated sporting facilities. It is understood that neither the tennis courts nor the bowling green has been used in recent years.

The planning application also included a new access road, footpaths and landscaping.

As well as refurbishing the main house, the company was awarded planning permission to build a new block of apartments nearby in 2016, although that approval has not been acted upon yet so it would now need to be renewed in order to proceed.

Granton Homes’ latest application raised the hackles of locals and resulted in a swathe of objections from dozens of residents living near the proposed development.

Opposition centred on plans to remove 32 mature trees and the assertion that the development was inappropriate to the setting of historic Kingsmeadows House.

Peebles Civic Society also expressed strong opposition to the plans, with a spokesperson saying: “The suggestion that the site should be classified as brownfield land is nonsense as in planning terms this normally means a derelict site that has previously been developed with buildings and, as such, may be potentially contaminated.”

Peebles Community Council also objected over its potential impact on the local bat population, with a spokesperson saying: “The woods at Kingsmeadows House provide a unique and increasingly rare habitat identified as home for a wide range of bat species. Bats use certain trees as navigational aids and were these trees to disappear it may cause distress and confusion.”

So many and so vehement were the objections sparked that council planning officer Ranald Dods wrote to the applicant’s agent, Edinburgh-based Zone Architects, to suggest that the bid be withdrawn, and that request has now been heeded.

News of that withdrawal has met with joy among the many objectors, including Joanne Topalian, who said: “What wonderful news on my birthday and Earth Day!”

In his recommendation for withdrawal, Mr Dods said: “You will be aware of the various consultation responses which have been provided in response to your client’s application.

“From those, you will see there are significant issues with the proposal, many of which were raised at the pre-application stage.

“They include the scaling, massing, design and proposed layout not being appropriate for the setting of a listed building, the conservation and the woodland setting.

“The proposed development would see a significant number of trees removed from the site, the removal of which has not been justified or backed up with appropriate information.

“In short, the proposal has significant issues which means that it cannot be supported. It would be, amongst other things, detrimental to the woodland resource, the setting of the listed building and the character and appearance of the conservation area and not acceptable on road safety grounds.

“As many of these are fundamental concerns, I suggest that the application is withdrawn.”