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Information on the village of Newtown St. Boswells in Scotland.

Back to: Newtown St Boswells Village Redevelopment News/Update


Notes of meeting with SBC Director of Planning & Economic Development

Special meeting on the Future of Newtown St.Boswells
Held Community Wing on 13th May 2008 at 7.00pm


Those present: George Luke (GL, Chair), Raymond du Bois (RduB, Secretary), Jim Dickson (JD), Nancy Allan (NA), Eoin Frame (EF), Daryl Perry (DP), Audrey Laycock (AL), Roger French (RF), Alison Reed (AR, St.Boswells CC), Mrs N Ewart (NE), Kenneth Ewart (KE), Rob McEwan (RMcE), Jane Smart (JS), Pat Barrow (PB), Ross Aitken (RA), David Dawson (DD, St.Boswells CC), Dougal Gillespie (DG), Carolyn Riddell-Carre (CRC) and four other villagers

Guest speaker: Ian Lindley (IL, SBC Director of Planning & Economic Development)

Apologies: Vicky Davidson (VD)

Introduction

GL opened the meeting by introducing IL, SBC Director of Planning & Economic Development, who has agreed to talk about the development plans for Newtown, both the village expansion and the regeneration of the village centre.

Future of Newtown St.Boswells

IL No formal presentation, but will outline stage of planning and talk about the major development areas around Newtown. Happy to take questions and interruptions.

The legal basis for the village expansion, the SBC Local Plan, has been finalised and scrutinised at a Public Inquiry. It will be printed and adopted by the Council, but will be subject to being called in by Scottish ministers and may be challenged to a judicial review. The Local Plan is then expected to be in place as the framework for development for the next few years.

The large development of some 700 houses to the south of Newtown is not an SBC-led development but should not be seen as purely developer-led either. Elphinstone Land has appointed Kevin Murray Associates to engage with the villagers through the period of writing a Master Plan. Kevin Murray will try to explore the full range of village opinion, including young people, the elderly and local businesses. The method used is called Inquiry by Design. It will be up to the Community Council and other village interest groups to decide the how, why and when of meetings, which will discuss the parameters of development, such as where the roads are put, access routes and land use such as housing, open space and woods.

The process, expected to start this month, will take about a year to produce a Master Plan for the new development. The developers will then decide on commercial grounds when to move ahead and submit outline and detailed planning applications. At that stage they will need consent from the SBC Planning dept and also from the roads agency and other bodies.

GL What is the scope of the Master Plan? Is this for the houses to the south of Newtown or will it cover the whole village?

IL Elphinstone Land does not have any control over areas away from their own development site but IL hopes that other developers will be invited to participate in the Master Planning process.

First outline planning applications will be about a year from now for the first phase of perhaps 100 houses. Elphinstone hopes to start building these in 2010 but IL believes that 2011 is more realistic. Elphinstone hopes to press ahead and is confident that the present credit crunch will not impact on timescales.

Turning to Lambs Hill, which is now owned by Miller Homes, a new planning application is expected soon but IL does not expect building work to start right away in the present market conditions.

Work is underway at Church Triangle and the developer hopes to have houses on the market by autumn this year.

The proposed work at the Mart site is in the hands of Swans PLC. The company will look hard at costs and potential commercial returns and may decide to wait for a more buoyant housing market.

RduB What about Sergeants Park phase 2 and the housing along the Bowden Road?

IL Buccleuch Estates has been looking at how to improve access to land northwest of Newtown.

RduB Is this the land which the Public Inquiry recommended removing from the Local Plan due to its sensitive location near the Eildons National Scenic Area? SBC has decided to include this land for landscaping but not for housing. Will IL clarify this?

IL The intention is for this land to be used to improve landscaping and to give a better ‘urban edge’.

GL Do the guidelines given in the Mart Planning Brief apply to the other development areas?

IL No, the Mart guidelines apply to buildings in the village centre only. Different considerations apply in different contexts but IL hopes developers will not ‘parachute in’ alien styles of building inappropriate for the central Borders.

IL hopes for such finishes as dry-dash with, perhaps, sandstone details such as quoins. The Planning dept will look for traditional steep roof angles. Details such as vertical window shapes can be discussed with the developer during the Master Planning exercise. IL hopes there will be not just individual houses but rows such as 1½-storey houses to give a traditional ‘feel’.

JD How many houses need to be built before the developer must provide a play park?

IL Agreed to provide the figures for play standards, covering sizes of play areas and equipment to be installed. Action 13-5/1 IL

RduB The Community Council is worried that new play areas will be built near the new housing developments, leaving the present village without good facilities for youngsters.

IL New housing will put pressure on the village - school, shops, Surgery and so forth. He wants to see this reflected through investment in the village centre, which will be a matter for negotiation with the developers. The developers must open their books to show how much cash is available for community facilities and the villagers will have an input to how and where this is spent.

GL How will development impact on the Baxter-Johnson and Cooks Van Hire area of Newtown?

IL Ideally, IL would like to see Baxter-Johnson, Cooks Van Hire, Scottish Fuels and Serviceline moved to Charlesfield. Also, the Council Depot. But, this would depend on the willingness of the businesses to move, on the availability of suitable sites at Charlesfield and on the cost of the moves. Charlesfield will need additional infrastructure to cope with more businesses and IL sees a funding gap of around £2.1 million.

There are also issues around the decontamination of sites such as the Baxter-Johnson depot.

NA Why has there been no consultation? Village opinion has consistently been ignored and profit has consistently been put ahead of the interests of the residents.

IL Developers will in fact spend a lot of money to improve traffic flow in the village and propose constructing a new link road from a new roundabout on the A68.

RduB The developers propose a new roundabout to the south of the present junction near Milestone. Will IL confirm if the present access to the village centre from the south will be maintained?

IL Would like to see the southern access retained, partly so as to facilitate use of the village-centre shops. How this can be achieved is not yet clear. Transport Scotland does not like five-leg roundabouts and will certainly not like two junctions close together as shown on the Elphinstone website. There will definitely be a new roundabout, but issues about the size and shape are still to be resolved.

GL Nothing has happened about new parking restrictions in the village centre following discussions with Technical Services. Pedestrian safety is an urgent concern - when will yellow lines be put down?

CRC Agreed to chase up on the parking restrictions. Action 13-5/2 CRC

PB Very concerned that traffic is literally getting heavier. Passing lorries cause the houses at Langlands Place to shake.

IL If a way can be found to move Baxter-Johnson and the Council Depot, this will help.

RF Nothing is said in the development plans about the Langlands Mill eyesore?

IL This is a complicated situation due to the owner of the Mill. IL can envisage a future re-use of the site with the existing Mill frontage retained, but this will depend on land values in Newtown rising to the point where that becomes an attractive option for a developer.

GL Can SBC take pro-active measures in respect of Langlands Mill?

IL No, it would not be feasible to take a Compulsory Purchase order through a Sheriff Court at present. But if a new planning brief for the whole village centre identifies alternative uses and if land values rise then a developer might become interested in the site in the future.

GL It is the duty of the Community Council to bring forward issues concerning villagers and the biggest of these are Langlands Mill and road safety in the village centre.

AR Following experiences in St.Boswells, please don’t let the developer paint the new houses white.

IL Your local councillor is very keen on this issue.

RF The future of Newtown seems to be in the hands of several developers working at several sites. It will be awful for the village if the 700 new houses are built to the south of Newtown but the Mart site is not re-developed as a village centre. Can the Council press for the Mart to be developed first?

IL No, these are commercial decisions which SBC cannot influence. The Mart-site planning brief was written to help give Swans PLC certainty and that is more than the Council is required do to help the process.

NA Villagers have asked for more shops. Can SBC give any guarantees that there will be any?

IL No. But any development may potentially help the village-centre businesses. Newtown has good businesses in the village but these are threatened by people going to Galashiels to do their shopping. Use them or lose them!

JD What about the planning changes with the new Strategic Planning authority?

IL Our job is to develop a Master Plan which gives the direction for the future development of Newtown and which can only be changed by an agreed process. The City Region is a mechanism to allow joined up planning in Scotland for transport, land-use and commercial development to help us compete in the European forum and is not a threat to local interests. In IL’s experience, a city does best when the interests of its region including the rural hinterland are best met.

RA What will be the population of Newtown following the village expansion? Will Newtown become a town?

IL, RF and RduB agreed that the projected population of around 3850 on completion of the village expansion will treble the size of Newtown and will change the village into a town comparable in size with Jedburgh or Eyemouth.

Conclusion

GL thanked for IL for his interesting talk. Clearly, there will be a lot to talk about in the future months
and years!

Date of next meeting

Tuesday 27th May 2008 at 7:00 pm in the Community Wing. The meeting will start with the AGM.

All residents of Newtown and Eildon are welcome to attend all Community Council meetings and raise matters of concern to them.

Notes of meeting with SBC Director of Planning & Economic Development, Scotland