Decision delayed over dog walk area

Scottish Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells
Scottish Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells

A Penicuik’s man’s planning battle is set to drag on as councillors have delayed making a decision on plans to open a dog walking facility near Peebles.

Paul Lawrie, of Friarton Garden, Penicuik, applied to Scottish Borders Council for permission to convert agricultural land near Milkiestone Toll House, to the north of Peebles, into a fenced area for exercising dogs in August 2018. 

However, planning officials rejected the application in April 2019, citing concerns over the access road from the A703. 

In the decision notice, John Hayward, the council’s planning and development standards manager, writes: “The development is contrary to policy PMD2 of the local development plan 2016 in that intensified traffic usage of the sub-standard vehicular access creates a detrimental impact on road safety on the A703. 

“The continued use of the existing sub-standard access would result in an unacceptable adverse impact on road safety, including, but not limited to, the site access.”

The application also attracted an objection from the occupant of Milkieston Toll House, Ray Haston, who commented: “The dogs are noisy during the day as they run around in a pack. It is impossible to stop dogs from barking with this type of set up.

“I see no reason this proposal should be granted as they clearly have little or no genuine regard to the area or for planning regulations.

Mr Lawrie subsequently appealed to the council’s local review body, which met on Monday, August 19, to deliberate on the proposals, and supplied more detailed information regarding the road usage and access.

An appeal statement, submitted by Planning Solutions Edinburgh, reads: “The proposal does not increase vehicle traffic beyond which would previously have been the case when the land was primarily used for grazing horses and sheep. 

“The site access, although not ideal, still enables drivers to see at least 220m in either direction without any major obstacles obscuring sight lines. 

“We believe that access to this site would not adversely affect road safety and we therefore respectfully recommend that this application for planning permission is granted on appeal.”

Despite this, council officers are still recommending the appeal be rejected. In a written submission to the local review body, planning officer Ranald Dods urges councillors to dismiss the appeal: “The proposed use is not one which can easily be located within an urban setting and a rural location is appropriate. 

“The land will be used for the intended purpose for only a limited number of hours per day in the working week and for the majority of the week, the land will appear as any other field in a rural setting. No buildings for the site. 

“Whilst the use is broadly acceptable in terms of policy, the issue of road safety at the access has not been overcome to the satisfaction of the roads department and a recommendation of refusal has been made.”

At the local review body on Monday, councillors decided to delay the appeal for another month, in order to give roads officers time to inspect the new information and make a recommendation to the committee. 

The local review body is next set to meet on Monday, September 16.