New planning rules hope to benefit Tweedbank

Tweedbank Industrial Estate
Tweedbank Industrial Estate

Scottish Borders Council is expected to introduce its first simplified planning zone to the region in an effort to capitalise on the revival of the Borders Railway.

Councillors are being asked to introduce the scheme, which would effectively relax planning legislation, to make it easier for businesses to set up home in the Central Borders Business Park at Tweedbank.

The move could pave the way for new retail outlets, offices and accommodation to move into the park without the need for planning permission.

If the plans are approved by the local authority tomorrow, SBC will become only the second Scottish local authority to have put a simplified planning zone (SPZ) in place for more than 20 years.

Within the zone the need to apply for planning permission for certain types of development would be removed, so long as the development complies with the details and guidance set out in the scheme, the idea being that this cuts out the need for repetitive planning applications, saving time and money for the existing organisations and new businesses looking to invest in the park.

Under the proposals parts of the business park will be open to development by hotels or businesses while others will be available as retail outlets.

Planning officer Karen Ruthven said: “The arrival of the Borders Railway offers a significant opportunity to create a high quality business park which both capitalises on the railway terminal and provides a supply of high quality business and industrial land for the Central Borders.

“The savings in terms of time, money and effort in considering these changes and the certainty offered by the SPZ status will help promote the Central Borders Business Park as a location to invest.”

If approved by the council, the simplified planning zone will be advertised and referred to Scottish Ministers.

The vision for the new business park at Tweedbank was first unveiled in 2014 by Alex Salmond, then First Minister, as part of a Blueprint for the Borders aimed at capitalising on the revival of the Borders Railway.

The early draft plans for the new Central Borders Business Park were discussed at length almost a year ago by the planning committee, and after a public consultation, have returned to councillors, recommended for approval by officers.