Plans for walled garden at old Walter Scott home approved on appeal

Plans for a home to be built within the walled garden of author Walter Scott’s favourite home have been given the go-ahead despite reservations being voiced by council officers.

By Kathryn Wylie
Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 5:04 pm
Ashiestiel Estate's walled garden.
Ashiestiel Estate's walled garden.

An application for planning permission in principle for at least one home in the garden at Ashiestiel House, near Clovenfords, found favour at the second time of asking at an appeal hearing on Monday.

Members of Scottish Borders Council’s local review body overturned a previous rejection of plans for a house within the walled garden there on the grounds that it was felt the site did not lie within part of an already-established building group.

The A-listed seven-bedroom mansion, set above the River Tweed, sits just a few hundred yards away from the walled gardens and a further two lodge houses are also situated at either site of the estate, and that was deemed close enough by the majority of the local authority’s review body.

“This is an application in principle so we are really just discussing whether this is part of the building group and does it meet the needs of that area,” Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton said.

“There is precedent here that there is a group within this former estate.

“There is a historical link certainly and the boundary does link in naturally quite well with the other buildings, I believe.

“I am more in favour of the applicant at this point as I think this walled garden could be built into a suitable home but would also be in keeping with the area itself. There is potential here for it to work.”

The application, submitted on behalf of Simon Brown by Galashiels firm Ferguson Planning, was refused earlier this year as planners believed it failed to fit in with its surroundings.

Officers still believe it is physically detached by distance as well as visually seeing as it doesn’t lie neatly within the existing cluster of the mansion house and lodges.

However, councillors shared the view that a historical relationship with that group of buildings was enough to justify overturning the ruling.

Hawick and Denholm councillor Neil Richards added: “I would class the walled garden as being integral to the original estate.

“There’s already three houses there so I have no concerns about building in there.

“I’d have no problems about supporting this.”

Ashiestiel House dates back to the 17th century and was the home of Sir Walter from 1804 until he moved to Abbotsford, near Tweedbank, in 1812.

Supporting Mr Brown’s plea, Galashiels Community Council said it was keen to see the wall protected for the future.

Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage agreed, saying: “For me, it’s really important that the wall is retained. Though it’s not listed, the walled garden should be seen as having regional importance.”

Councillors unanimously agreed to uphold the appeal, though with conditions concerning road improvements, tree and landscape surveys and a pledge from the applicant to maintain the wall in any future detailed planning applications submitted at a later date.

Tim Ferguson, boss of Ferguson Planning, welcomed the news, saying afterwards: “Having viewed proceedings online for the first time, we were delighted to inform our clients of the approval.

“This is a truly unique project and one where we have sought to design and place the house within the inner walled garden, meaning it will largely go unnoticed.

“More importantly, it will now mean Walter Scott’s historic walled garden can be brought back into use and safeguarded well into the future.”