Sewage probe and house plan rejected

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A CALL was made this week for an independent investigation into complaints by residents of Cardrona into the luxury village’s waste water treatment works, writes Andrew Keddie.

It came from Tweeddale East councillor Gavin Logan when Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee met on Monday to consider a bid by Eskgrove Homes to erect seven houses on land between C-listed Cardrona Mains farmhouse, built in 1816, and the B7062 back road from Peebles to Innerleithen.

It turned out to be a case of second time unlucky for the applicants who had a similar application rejected in October last year when councillors deemed the development would have an unacceptable impact on the listed building and, by dint of its design and lay-out, would be out of character with nearby residential properties.

Since then, the firm had gone back to the drawing board, effecting many changes to the house styles, including the replacement of box dormers with roof lights.

The improvements convinced five members of the committee to vote for approval, in line with the recommendation of planning officers.

But the remaining five councillors, including chairman Jock Houston, felt the character and amenity of the area would still be adversely affected and voted for refusal. With the votes tied, Mr Houston cast in favour of rejection.

The decision will please the five objectors to the revised proposal, including Brian McCrow, chairman of the Cardrona Residents’ Association.

He claimed the roof lights proposed were too high and would restrict light to neighbouring properties at St Leonard’s Way, and that extra pressure on the road access to the B7062, which has no 30mph limit, would create a safety issue.

But the main thrust of his objection related to the reed-bed sewage plant, at the east end of a site, which serves around 300 households.

“There are issues with the sewage plant capacity,” wrote Mr McCrow. “Scottish Water has informed me the plant is working at 92 per cent of planned capacity [theoretical], but cannot make any statement about actual capacity and performance of the plant as it has no measuring method.

“By any engineering standards, 92 per cent is too high, so all developments in Cardrona should cease until the plant is upgraded.”

Acknowledging that several objectors had referred to existing services, local planning officer Dorothy Amyes said agents for the applicants had submitted a letter from Scottish Water giving its consent for the new houses to be connected to the existing sewage system.

“Scottish Water does not raise any issues relating to capacity,” reported Ms Amyes. “It is known that the present facilities are to be upgraded with work scheduled to start this month. Therefore, it is considered the current proposal can be adequately serviced.”

Councillor Logan found no support when he called on the committee to commission an indepenent consultant to investigate the sewage complaints in Cardrona.

He said later: “I realise the decision to refuse this application was not based on the adequacy or otherwise of the waste water treatment plant, but I am disappointed the committee did not support my call, given that I have received continual complaints about the facility’s effectiveness since I became a councillor.

“With the greatest respect to Scottish Water, it would be liable for the cost of any remedial work at the plant and, as such, could hardly be described as independent.

“An independent consultant and his findings could allay the concerns of Cardrona residents.”