Developer to appeal against rejection of plans for low-carbon homes in Hawick

Four low-carbon homes proposed for a plot west of Thornwood Lodge in Hawick's Weensland Road.
Four low-carbon homes proposed for a plot west of Thornwood Lodge in Hawick's Weensland Road.

A developer refused planning consent for four low-carbon homes in Hawick is set to appeal against that decision.

East Lothian firm Borders Low Carbon Developments had hoped to build the three-storey homes west of Thornwood Lodge in Weensland Road but was given the thumbs-down by Scottish Borders Council planners.

Planning officer Stuart Herkes, acting under delegated powers, refused the application, describing the design of the homes as “highly contrived and exaggerated” and out of keeping with neighbouring properties.

The Humbie company is unhappy about that decision, though, and now intends to appeal against it to the council’s local review body.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “Mr Herkes could not even be persuaded to come and walk over the site to properly assess the context.

“His report is muddled and full of errors and contradictions.

“This site is the last piece of the former Thornwood House estate to be developed. It has no historical association with the neighbouring mill workers’ cottages.

“The officer’s own notions about re-siting the houses next to the busy road are unhealthy and completely and demonstrably unworkable.

“There is nothing contrived or exaggerated about this proposal.

“Where the planning officer sees just a flat roof, we see rows of solar panels that match the pitch of the roofs next door and, between them, moss and fern gardens whose carbon capture is equivalent to hundreds of trees.

“We have a proven track record of delivering homes whose performance excels and high-quality, contextual site-specific design.

“All our projects stem from years of rigorous architectural training and a lifetime of experience.

“Our designs are imbued with human spirit and optimism for the future.

“They enhance the health and wellbeing of residents and communities.

‘We seek to look to the future rather than be pastiche in our designs.

“We believe this proposal will sit well within the streetscape and will have no significant impact on local amenity.

“There have been limited objections to our proposal, and we consider that most in the community would welcome high-quality houses built on this land.

“We are building sustainable housing using precious resources for a very different world in future.

“The world today is a hotbed of research and development, yet when we showed Borders planners what is possible with innovative housing, our proposal was not properly considered.

“This refusal puts at risk a significant private investment, one that requires no grants or public funding.

“We have a great vision for the future. We can make a difference.

“Projects like this take a huge amount of time and effort to put together.

“This is a beacon project, a fantastic opportunity for regenerating Hawick, providing much-needed local jobs and housing of the highest standard, and it could all be lost.”

The firm’s plans were for low-energy, timber-framed homes in two blocks with solar panels on their roofs and electric car-charging points for residents.

In his report on the application, Mr Herkes said: “It is decidedly at odds with the character and type of properties within the surrounding area, in that it would be accommodated on the site in a way which would be, and appear to be, highly contrived and exaggerated.

“While the surrounding area is mostly characterised by dwelling houses of traditional designs, the house type proposed in this application would be of non-traditional design, of a very different form from any surrounding buildings, including even 20th century buildings, principally in having a flat roof, gables of exaggerated width and notably different windows-to-walls ratios.”

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