Galashiels and Earlston affordable housing bids put on hold, but Oxton plans recommended for approval

Two proposed affordable housing projects in the Borders have been put on hold in the face of opposition from residents.

By Paul Kelly
Thursday, 28th February 2019, 10:14 pm
Updated Friday, 1st March 2019, 10:42 am
Residents unhappy about plans to demolish garages at Heriotfield, Oxton, to make way for new housing.
Residents unhappy about plans to demolish garages at Heriotfield, Oxton, to make way for new housing.

Scottish Borders Housing Association plans to demolish garages and build six new three-bedroom homes on land at Queensway in Earlston and a further five three-bedroom properties in Mossilee Road in Galashiels on a garage plot and two car parking sites.

Both schemes have raised the hackles of residents and community groups.

In the face of that opposition, the applications have now been withdrawn to allow the association to take stock of the issues at stake, with the intention being to resubmit them at a later date.

Garages in Mossilee Road in Galashiels.

The schemes are being drawn up at a time of high demand for houses in the Borders, and the proposed housing would also form part of the association’s contribution to the Scottish Government’s target of creating 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.

However, residents of Mossilee Road and nearby Mossilee Crescent say the loss of car parks would have a detrimental impact on them and force up to 30 vehicles into kerb-side spaces.

Similarly, people living in Queensway raised concerns at the loss of 12 parking spaces to make way for new homes.

The housing association is now reviewing its plans for both locations.

Ali Wear, a development officer for the Selkirk-based social landlord, said: “The intention is to withdraw the application at Queensway, similar to the withdrawal of the Mossilee application, and take stock of the issues and objections raised and rectify them before re-applying.”

Another association bid to build four affordable homes for rent on another garage site in Heriotfield, Oxton, is being recommended for approval by members of Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee next Monday, however.

The proposal for four two-storey houses at Heriotfield has angered neighbours of the site, particularly those in Justice Park.

They fear the properties would tower over houses there, offering a clear view into their bedrooms and bathrooms.

Justice Park resident William Loneskie, one of numerous objectors to the scheme, has accused the housing association of adopting double standards by not putting its Oxton application on hold too.

Mr Loneskie said: “I’m disappointed that they have not taken on board the views of the residents.

“A precedent has been set with the development in Mossilee Road in Galashiels and Queensway in Earlston,

“I don’t see why the residents in Oxton have to be deprived of garages so that two-storey houses can be built which will greatly diminish the quality of life of the people who live in Justice Park.

“I think there is a question of fairness here.

“They are somewhat similar developments and the same principles should be applied, I would have thought.

“I think it is a question of double standards.”

Tracey Alder, secretary of Galashiels Community Council, described the decision to withdraw the Mossilee Road application as “definitely the right move”.

She said: “If this car parking was taken away, it would be absolutely horrendous for the residents. There would be nowhere to park. We had 30 people attend the community council and they were all adamant this application was wrong. It’s definitely the right decision to withdraw it.”

Fellow objector George Birbeck, of Queensway, Earlston, described the association’s decision to withdraw its housing bid in the street as “a step in the right direction”, adding: “Personally, I can’t see it going ahead even if they re-apply.”