Residents up in arms over plans for flats

Melrose's St Dunstan's Park garages.
Melrose's St Dunstan's Park garages.

A social landlord’s plans to build eight new flats in St Dunstan’s Park in Melrose in place of 13 garages have come under fire from residents.

Scottish Borders Housing Association, also planning a similar move at Mossilee Road in Galashiels, as reported last week, has written to the tenants of the garages to declare its intentions.

That letter, signed by head of asset planning and development Caroline Purcell, states: “Scottish Borders Housing Association intends to submit a planning application in the very near future to Scottish Borders Council to build new affordable homes on the garage site you currently rent from us.

“We would expect to hear by the end of 2018 if this application has been successful.

“Should planning consent be granted, it would be our intention to serve you legal notice to vacate the site.”

A planning application for the flats has not yet been lodged, but residents affected attended last week’s meeting of Melrose Community Council to record their concerns.

One said: “One of our worries is that it could have an implication for property values in the area.”

Another resident cited worries over safety: “Fire engines have difficulty turning around on the street, and this would no doubt make it worse.”

Other concerns include lack of parking and the impact on the environment, with parts of the banking behind the garages set to be excavated and fears that asbestos is present in the garages.

The association’s director of assets and property services, Henry Coyle, said: “Our housing needs analysis shows that there is considerable demand for affordable housing right across the Borders and as buying land is expensive, we are looking to make best use of the land we already own, as well as considering additional land acquisition opportunities.

“According to our housing register, housing in these areas is in high demand, and we have not so far been able to advertise these types of houses in these areas.

“We currently have just over 4,000 home-seekers on our housing register.”

“We appreciate that it may be inconvenient for people to make alternative storage arrangements. However, we feel that meeting housing need through the creation of well-designed, warm, affordable housing is of paramount importance.

“Parking re-provision will be addressed in the planning application, and we hope that by informing people affected so far ahead of the required 28-day notice period, we can assist them to make alternative arrangements.”