Residents vow to fight appeal giving go-ahead for 69-home estate in Galashiels

Residents have hit out at a Scottish Government reporter’s decision to overturn the rejection by council planners of proposals for a 69-home housing estate on the outskirts of Galashiels.

John Birnie next to the C77 at Coopersknowe.
John Birnie next to the C77 at Coopersknowe.

Coppersknowe Residents Association chairman John Birnie said he felt so strongly about the developer’s appeal being allowed that he will be looking into options to take the matter to the Court of Session.

Eildon Housing Association had already been granted planning consent for 58 flats and houses next to Coopersknowe Crescent at Easter Langlee, and it has now been given the green light to add another 11 after government reporter Amanda Chisholm upheld the social landlord’s appeal.

Mr Birnie said: “We are certainly not happy with the decision.

How the new development near Coopersknowe Crescent will look.

“We can’t believe that one woman has the power to overturn the decision of elected members.

“We are trying to figure out if we can, in turn, appeal to the Court of Session if we can find a backer to do so because it won’t be cheap.

“It is undemocratic and, like the decision of the UK prime minister to prorogue parliament in recent weeks, we believe it might be unlawful.

“If we take this matter to court, I have no doubt that we would win.”

In rejecting the bid to build 11 extra homes, the council’s planning and building standards committee cited concerns over increased traffic on the C77 Langlee-Lauder road.

However, Ms Chisholm argued they would have a “negligible effect” on traffic levels, something Mr Birnie disputes.

He also has issues with the 13 conditions the reporter is insisting on before building can commence and with her optimism about a roundabout being built at the junction of the C77 and B6374.

“The land that would be required to build the roundabout is not even being purchased,” he said.

“We were told by the financial department at Scottish Borders Council that it is not in the pipeline.”

“The reporter has also made it a condition that a crossing would be put in place across the C77 at Melrose Gait.

“We were told by the council that such a crossing would be refused as it would make the traffic on the road even more dangerous.”

Another condition by Ms Chisholm states that no work should be carried out until the developer submits an approved scheme, at its own expense, “to identify and assess potential contamination on site”.

The site was previously farmland, and Mr Birnie claimed: “Due diligence was not done into contamination concerns at the site.

“If we had known this, we would have objected strongly to the 58 houses. We would never have agreed to it.

“If the land is contaminated, it will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to put right.”

Mr Birnie says he also has concerns over disabled access to and from the cottages at what he calls the pinch point between Coopsersknowe and Melrose Gait.

He added: “The council is sending me paperwork on the appeals process, and we’ll go over it and see where we stand, but we definitely think the reporter has made a real blooper here.

“The traffic congestion caused by this will be absolutely horrendous, with three developments all converging into one exit onto Melrose Road.”