A WAR of words has broken out between a Borders car showroom and a neighbour.
Border Toyota, on the A68 at St Boswells, has a “demonstration and training area” to the back of the showroom, which also contains six electric vehicle charging points.
Now, the owner of Border Motor Group, Archie Maclean, has applied to Scottish Borders Council’s planning department for permission to use the area as a car park for visitors and staff members.
However, the immediate neighbour of the proposed car park, Andrew Dow, has objected to the change of use, alleging the area is already used as a car park and causing noise disturbance on his property.
Appearing at a meeting of the council’s planning and building standards committee on September 7, Mr Dow said: “The condition that has applied to be removed is a vital safeguard for our residential amenity.
“We haven’t, however, had the protection of it as it has been ignored since the date of completion.
“We have therefore experienced the disruption for several months. The car park is operated from 6am until 8pm – a continual stream of cars, headlamps, lorries and trailers unloading.
“We’ve even had an instance of a car transporter right outside our kitchen window, with the driver staring in at my daughter eating her breakfast.
“The original breach of the previous condition was reported to Scottish Borders Council in January. And on January 22, a 28-day notice was served – this would terminate on February 19.
“We would like to state that this was well before COVID-19.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve had to involve the enforcement officer in planning matters regarding the garage next door.
“I have to ask, if not for COVID, what would the applicant’s solution be to this breach?”
Mr Maclean, whose business employs 186 people across four locations, responded to Mr Dow’s objections.
Mr Maclean told the committee: “This application is to address a long-standing operational issue for us – that being having adequate parking for staff and customers, and the knock-on impact that has in relation to business operations, but more importantly on the health and safety of our staff and the visiting members of the public.
“In short, we need more space in which to operate effectively and to meet the standard required of us by our franchise Toyota and governing authorities.
“You will have noted a number of our staff members have written in to that effect – we are delighted by the levels of support of our customers and by some local businesses.
“We have noted the five objections, and with respect to them, would draw your attention to the fact they are from our neighbours Mr Dow, his father-in-law, and three of his pals.
“We understand Mr Dow’s position, but would respectively note that the St Boswells garage operated for many years before Mr Dow’s decision to build two houses close to it.
“This proposal, if accepted, would allow staff to park well away from Mr Dow and the neighbours will hear less vehicle and people noise.”
Officers told the committee the application had received five letters of objection, and 36 letters of support, and recommended that councillors approve the application.
Hawick councillor Neil Richards told the meeting: “I can’t see much wrong with this application, and I feel sorry for the householders that are near, but that business has been there a long time.
“Perhaps a boundary hedge might help a little, but otherwise I support this.”
East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton said: “Maybe another hedge on Mr Dow’s land might give him a little more privacy and shelter some of the noise.
“I support this application fully. I think the owner of the garage has been very obliging, offering to park his cars away from the site, which I think is a positive.
“I think a hedge or something to screen the property would help, as we need to support this business.”
Councillors agreed to support the application, but with the condition that some screening be installed or planted to protect Mr Dow’s house.