Plans for 13 new homes alongside the A7 in Selkirk have been approved despite objections from neighbours concerned about road safety.
Melrose-based contractor Rural Renaissance has been given the green light to build the houses on land to the south east of Selkirk Tennis Club in Hillside Terrace.
However, residents living opposite the proposed site are objecting to the plans, citing fears over the safety of the access being proposed onto the A7 Edinburgh-Carlisle road.
Appearing before Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee today, October 7, residents Lindsay Neil and Vivienne Nash voiced their concerns.
Dr Neil, now retired, told the committee: “For over 20 years, I was a GP in Selkirk, and I’ve lived in a house near the site for 46 years.
“Apart from the volume of traffic, which has increased by a number of magnitudes over the years I’ve lived there, the speed of the traffic is one of the reasons why this whole thing is concerning.
“We do not have any objection to developing that field. What we have an objection to is the dangers imposed by having access onto the A7.”
Dr Nash added: “I live in a house opposite, and my access is directly adjacent to the field.
“I’m not objecting to the housing, but I have great concerns regarding the access onto this extremely busy and overloaded trunk road.
“I hope that no further accesses will be approved until a Selkirk bypass is constructed.
“The speed and volume of traffic is horrendous, with very few road users adhering to the 30mph speed limit.
“We’ve campaigned for over nine years to have some sort of traffic-calming measures or signage but to no avail.”
Selkirkshire councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol has also voiced her concerns about the A7, but in a written submission to planners she stopped short of registering an objection to the development.
She wrote: “The speed of vehicles both north and south bound on the A7 Hillside Terrace prevents turning in and out of driveways, and there is concern that adding approximately 20 more vehicles will simply exacerbate this.
“This is a major trunk road and it will have a serious impact on traffic movement, impacting on residents, through traffic and others who use the road.”
Despite those concerns, officers told the committee that Transport Scotland has approved the plans subject to a condition requiring that a temporary traffic management system be put in place during construction of the access.
Rural Renaissance also intends to widen the A7 alongside the site to improve road safety.
Appearing on its behalf, Gavin Yuill, of Galashiels-based Camerons Architects, told councillors: “Careful consideration has been given to the new sightlines at the junction, along with the stopping distance along the A7.
“In addition to the junction sightlines, the first ten metres of the junction have been designed to align with Transport Scotland’s requirement for a low-approach gradient at the junction.
“Discussions were held with Transport Scotland to determine the layout of the proposed access, and it is their opinion that the junction provides an acceptable access for the site.
“The access is safe, compliant and the most appropriate access point for the site.
“In response to the comments from councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol, the introduction of additional residential units on the east side of Hillside Terrace will in fact help reduce vehicle speeds as it will create a more residential feel with houses on both sides of the road.”
Councillors agreed that, because Transport Scotland had voiced no objections to the plans, to reject the application on those grounds would open up the council to the risk of an appeal.
Kelso councillor Simon Mountford explained: “There is no justification in refusing this, given that it has the backing of the local development plan and Transport Scotland, who have approved the access.
“If it was dismissed, it would simply be appealed against, and that would expose the council to unnecessary additional costs.”
Officers advised that because the A7 is a trunk road, responsibility for installing signage and traffic-calming measures lies with Transport Scotland.
The application was agreed unanimously by the committee.