Rejected plans for holiday lodges near Bonchester Bridge set to go to appeal

How holiday lodges being planned by Claire Mactaggart at Hallrule Farm, near Bonchester Bridge, would look.
How holiday lodges being planned by Claire Mactaggart at Hallrule Farm, near Bonchester Bridge, would look.

Plans to build three holiday lodges near Bonchester Bridge are being given a second hearing after being rejected in April. 

Claire Mactaggart had her initial plans to build holiday lodges on land at Hallrule Farm rejected by planning officials citing concerns over the rural nature of the site and the viability of the proposals.

The development would see three lodges for let built on a greenfield plot to the west of Hallrule Farm Cottage, along with a new access road.

Mrs Mactaggart’s application has sparked six objections from five households, with the main issues raised being traffic movement and safety, the visual impact of the development and the impact on the environment and natural heritage.

Simon Blackwood, who lives near Bedrule, writes in his objection: “This area is one of specific natural beauty and should remain so. 

“The building designs are all inappropriate in this setting and the financial benefit to the landowner is far outweighed by the wildflowers and vegetation of the local amenity enjoyed by locals and walkers from all over the Borders and beyond.

“Farm diversification is no reason to install holiday homes which will increase traffic substantially in an otherwise peaceful rural environment.

“The roads in the locality are almost entirely single track and already inadequately tended by the roads department.

“The application should be refused.”

That objection was upheld by planners, but Mrs Mactaggart has appealed to Scottish Borders Council’s local review body, and it will offer a second opinion on her proposals next Monday, July 15. 

An appeal statement, submitted to the local review body by Galashiels-based consultancy firm Ferguson Planning reads: “We believe that the proposed site offers a unique opportunity for high-quality self-catering holiday lodge accommodation in the Borders.

“One of the major selling points of holiday getaways are the views and tranquil locations that are on offer. 

“The location was carefully chosen to offer visitors a tranquil escape that can be appreciated and enjoyed for its serene atmosphere and surroundings. 

“Existing land form and trees effectively screen the cottages and will therefore generally not have any impact on visual amenity in the Teviot Valleys special landscape area. 

“The lodges will not be seen from any public receptor point and therefore have a low landscape impact as a result.

“Appropriate design measures have been taken into consideration for this location.

“External materials reflecting the existing landscape have been proposed to ensure the integration of the cottages into the valley.”

However, planning officers are still adamant that the application should be rejected.

A report by planning officer Stuart Herkes reads: “The proposal does not in its siting, layout and design respect the landscape and visual amenities of the site and surrounding area and would lead to a form of development that would be incongruous in this isolated rural location. 

“The proposal would be liable to promote residential development on a site with respect to which no justification has been given to substantiate any operational or economic requirement of any business requiring itself to operate from this specific countryside location. 

“It is considered that the proposal would be contrary to the local development plan and should be refused.”