Tweedbank soft-play is a no-go as council rejects plans

The Barbour factory at Tweedside Park, Tweedbank, in 2007.The Barbour factory at Tweedside Park, Tweedbank, in 2007.
The Barbour factory at Tweedside Park, Tweedbank, in 2007.
Plans for a new gym and soft-play area have hit a stumbling block after planning chiefs refused permission for the conversion last week.

Proposals to convert a vacant factory storage unit at Tweedbank into a gym and soft-play area, creating eight jobs, were submitted by Melrose-based JSC Properties in the spring.

But Scottish Borders Council has thrown out the plans for the former Barbour unit at Tweedside Park, on the basis of it being set aside for employment use in the local development plan.

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The council’s lead planning officer Carlos Clarke said; “The proposed uses do not fall within the permitted classes and, though there are material considerations which count in favour of the development to some extent, these are not sufficient to override the conflict with policy.

Mr Clarke said the proposals would “undermine aspirations to develop a high-quality business park” there as well as refusing on the grounds of trees being lost to allow for parking.

A spokesperson for Ferguson Planning, JSC Properties’ agent, said: “The applicant received 330 responses to a survey on the proposals, the vast majority of which were strongly in favour of the new facilities. The council is, however, of the view that the proposals are not compatible with the Local Development Plan’s requirement because it only permits ‘employment uses’ in the location, although two full-time jobs and six part-time jobs would have been created.

“The proposal sought to bring much-needed recreational facilities for children, together with an adjacent adults’ gym. The new leisure uses would have brought into life parts of the building that have lain vacant since 2014.

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“Currently 60% of the building is already occupied with businesses, which will remain. A soft-play centre with an adventurous four-storey structure would have been provided as would separate facilities for toddlers and children, together with an in-house café.

“The use of under one-fifth of the floor area of the unit for the proposed new uses would not have detrimentally impacted the supply of employment land and buildings in the area, of which there is a surplus.”

The applicant says it is currently considering its position with regards to appeal the council’s decision.