GALASHIELS is set to get more than 100 new houses after planning permission was granted by Borders councillors this week.
Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee met on Monday (March 29) to discuss the development at Upper Langlee.
The application – put forward by Waverley Housing Association to ‘regenerate’ its housing stock – will see the demolition of existing properties on the north of Beech Avenue, to the east of Laurel Grove and west of Larch Grove. The flats will be replaced by 109 homes.
At the meeting, Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson said: “It’s an area that has been getting a bit tired.
“We don’t want to replace an eyesore with another one. What we have is a lovely modern take on what was there.”
Mr Anderson, of the SNP, added: “There’s a very active community there. I think once they start decanting people from there, quite a few of them want to move back.”
Residents of the flats set to be demolished will be offered a place in one of the new properties, developers say.
The development consists of 14 blocks of terraced houses which “include a range of townhouse, terraced house and cottage flats”.
Developers say the project will result in the felling of up to 79 trees – a move described as “regrettable” by SBC’s principal planning officer, Barry Fotheringham.
According to the report put to councillors, the project’s benefits outweigh the felling as “the tree removal helps to facilitate the regeneration of an existing affordable housing scheme”.
Helen Laing, an SNP councillor for East Berwickshire, said: “I think we’ve got some good sustainability proposals in this development – the solar panels and air source heat pumps – but I’m sad to lose the trees.”
Regarding the development on the whole, Ms Laing added: “It’s clearly an improvement on what is there at the moment.”
Fellow East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton, of the Conservatives, said he would like to see the houses painted with “warm colours”.
“Balamory might be a bit much for Galashiels, but we need warm colours to fit in with the landscape. I don’t think there should be more than two houses of the same colour together.”
Mr Fullarton added that he was happy to be getting “rid of the blight of 60s architecture” by replacing the flats with the new houses.
Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton said: “Some of the buildings there were of their time. Well I certainly think that time has expired.”
The Conservative member continued: “It’s a very positive project going ahead here. This project can be a catalyst to support that area going forward.”
Kelso councillor Simon Mountford, chairing the meeting, asked for the developer to consider placing charging points for electric cars in the parking area.
Mr Mountford, of the Conservatives, described the proposed housing as a “huge improvement” on the current flats, predicting that it would be “an attractive and popular place to live in Galashiels”.
“It’s an echo of the pre-existing building without being a replica,” he said.
Councillors unanimously approved the application, subject to a number of planning conditions.
One of those conditions is that the proposed residential units will have to “meet the definition of ‘affordable housing’”.