A CONTROVERSIAL bid for a family home at the entrance to a Borders village which faced opposition from locals has been blocked by a council planning committee.
Planning approval had been sought from Scottish Borders Council for a carbon-neutral detached family home on land south west of West Lodge, outside of Minto.
The original plan was for a two-storey property but that was later reduced to 1.5 storeys high.
When members of the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee met on Monday (July 4) they were recommended to agree the application on the grounds it would not impact on neighbouring properties and was in accordance with the council’s Local Development Plan.
But there were a number of objections to the bid from villagers on the grounds of over-development and drainage concerns.
And the bid was rejected by a vote of five councillors against and three in favour.
Addressing the meeting, Susan Clew, on behalf of the residents who objected to the application, said: “When we bought West Lodge in 2016 we knew there was lapsed permission for a house on the land opposite. We fully expected to see something built there and are on record for supporting suitable development.
“We imagined a single house with a decent sized garden, plenty of room for parking and outbuildings, which would be in keeping with the low density nature of the outskirts of the village.
“The outcome is somewhat different. We already have two identical houses that are situated uncomfortably close together and of a style and size that is out of keeping with the rest of the village.
“Building a third property within an even larger footprint would compound this over-development. Having moved back to Scotland from the south of England I thought I had left the cramming of over-sized, over-priced houses into under-sized plots behind, but obviously not.”
Co-applicant Professor Sally Haw, together with David Anderson, of Borders Low Carbon Developments Ltd, said: “David and I wanted to build a home near Minto for a number of years. He has a number of projects in the area and its become much more important to get near these projects given the cost of petrol.
“We have designed a home that meets our professional needs. We have provisional space for a library, we have an extensive number of books, a studio office and a study for me. It also allows our extended family to visit. Between us we have seven siblings and five children.”
Professor Haw, a public health expert, said the house would incorporate high quality materials, including stone and slate.
She added: “There is fears that our new home overlooks West Lodge, but when you go to where the site is and look towards West Lodge there is only one window that looks onto the site.
“There are fears that the house is ‘crammed in’. If you look at the application site and the other sites in the original village from 1831, it’s actually the second largest plot of all the houses there. There is ample space for parking, garden and trees around the border.”
Councillors raised concerns regarding the proposal.
Hawick and Denholm councillor Neil Richards said: “This is outwith the conservation area and my concern is where does this stop because to me that house will dominate that corner and will lead on to possible use of that field next to it back down to Denholm.
“This could be the start of ribbon development once you allow that. I’m sceptical about this and I would go against it.”
Councillor Marshall Douglas, of the Tweeddale East ward, added: “I don’t believe it would look too out of place at that site. My concerns are over the drainage and the sceptic tank, and there would need to be more information on the drainage and water pressure levels.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Jane Cox said: “It is a very desirable looking building. My main concern would be over the parking. There are three houses here, each of whom have two parking spaces and there are two parking spaces for visitors. I’m really not convinced that is sufficient.”
Councillor for Mid Berwickshire Donald Moffatt said: “When you are coming into a village which is a conservation area there is a sense of place. When I look at this I think it is over-development. I would rather see this kept as a field.”
Tweeddale West councillor Eric Small said: “I think it will complete the site. I think it will enhance it. I have no objections at all.”