Residents of St Boswells are accusing council planners of leaving them in the dark about a change to a planning application.
That dispute stems from a planning application by Greenside Veterinary Practice to build a single-storey large animal housing unit to the south of its main building in a paddock between Main Street and Greenside Park.
An initial application, submitted in January, attracted just one objection, but in March the plans were altered to move the animal shed much closer to the neighbouring St Aidan’s Park, and letters were sent out to residents notifying them of that change.
No objections were raised at the time, and council officers subsequently approved the newly amended plans.
However, several St Boswells residents have complained to Scottish Borders Council saying that they received no letters and raising concerns over the proximity of the animal shelter to their homes.
Some residents have begun a protest campaign, with nine objectors all submitting the same letter to council planners.
It reads: “The original application was notified by letter, initially to all residents affected, and the plans and intentions outlined.
“The original plans put forward have been subsequently radically altered, and now construction has begun without any notification whatsoever to the original recipients of the application of the scope and nature of the changes.
“I can state categorically that we received no written communication of the changed plans at all and were therefore denied our fair opportunity to understand, consider and raise objections, or not, as the law allows.”
Despite a number of residents saying they did not receive any letter, council planners are sticking to their guns and say that letters were definitely sent out and, as none had been returned by postal services, they must have been delivered.
A response letter, from council planner Julia Hayward, reads: “Whilst neighbour notification of revised proposals is discretionary, the council did undertake to notify neighbours of the revisions in this case.
“Our records indicate that neighbour notification letters advising of the revised proposals were printed on May 10, 2018. Letters were sent out by second-class post to be delivered by Royal Mail.
“The council has a statutory duty to notify any properties within 20m of a planning application site boundary.
“That said, while I can confirm that the letters were produced and issued, I cannot say with certainty if or when they were delivered.
“However, it is normal practice for Royal Mail to return any notification letters that did not reach their destination with an explanation as to why that was.
“Given that we received no such returns, we have to assume that delivery took place.
“Therefore, it is concluded that neighbours had the opportunity to comment on the revised scheme and no representations were received.”
St Boswells resident Bill Moody, of the Green, said: “There’s no reason at all for them to move it to the second position, which runs over a water main and is right in line with a public footpaths.
“They didn’t send out any information to the people that it was being changed and, because they didn’t get any replies to the letter they claim they sent, they approved it for building.
“Everyone in the village is amazed. It’s an eyesore and right in the middle of a conservation area.
“We are annoyed that we never got a chance to object.
“I have contacted everyone that got that first letter and none of them received a second one.
“It’s in a position which is irritating everyone in the village. It’s obviously going to cause consternation. Villagers are up in arms about it.
“It seems to be a deliberate attempt by the council to get it through by any means possible.
“Greenside Vets say they have done everything that the planning department has told them to do. It’s not them that is in the wrong.”
The veterinary practice has been asked for a comment but has yet to take up that offer.