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

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Masterplan Design Day 12th Nov. - Feed-back

Held in Newtown St.Boswells Community Centre, 12th November 2008

Background

The Masterplan Design Day was arranged by Kevin Murray Associates on behalf of the developers, Buccleuch Property and Elphinstone, as a follow up to the Orientation Day held on 2nd October.

Buccleuch and Elphinstone are working towards building 900 houses on land to the south and west of Newtown.

At the earlier meeting, villagers and other groups had the opportunity to discuss the proposed housing development and list their concerns and priorities. The design consultants hired by the developers have considered the issues raised and have thought about how these will be addressed in the plans for the new housing.

The Masterplan Day

Welcoming delegates, local Councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre introduced Kevin Murray, who was keen to stress that the Masterplan Day is only one step on the road to producing a plan for the new housing around Newtown. It is hoped that an outline planning application will be submitted to Scottish Borders Council in the first half of 2009.

The Masterplan Day consisted of a set of presentations and workshops during the afternoon with the presentations repeated in the evening. Participants during the day included representatives from the community council, local businesses, SBC, the Health Board and Scottish Natural Heritage as well as Barton-Willmore design consultants and the developers.

The evening was intended for villagers to come along and see what is being proposed at this stage of the design process. However, due to problems with the publicity for the evening, only six people turned up. Kevin Murray will seek to repeat this public consultation at another time, possibly in January 2009.

Brian Frater, Head of Planning at SBC, gave a quick update on the stage reached at other sites in the village, away from the large areas south and west of the village. Nothing much will happen on the Mart site for the present. Fresh interest has been shown in Lambs Hill. The Council intends to develop planning guidance to encourage the right sort of development in the village centre.

The Barton-Wilmore designers presented their thoughts since the October meeting when they had been given several very clear messages about what villagers think is and is not important. Draft design sketches were shown, to illustrate that the proposed layout will give a ‘softer’ edge to the village, with curved streets of houses, gardens and open spaces where existing trees and hedges are retained as well as new tree planting.

On the Bowden road, the present long straight towards Newtown is broken up by placing a new village green at the edge of Newtown, causing a detour to slow cars down and providing a pleasantly designed village entrance.

The housing areas are given variety and a ‘sense of place’ by use of short streets with a mixture of housing types, short terraces as well as detached houses, and several squares and other open spaces. The designers have tried to give open views towards the dramatic backdrop of the Eildons.

Workshops

Four groups discussed aspects of the draft sketches produced by Barton-Willmore. Road and path layout, house types and density, street form and design, open areas and play parks, access to the countryside and valued the ‘village feel’ of Newtown were all discussed. Points made by the groups were presented to the whole meeting and will be considered by the designers during the next stage of more detailed work.

A number of the issues raised related to sustainability and environmental friendliness. For example, the provision of a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) will need to be one of the first things thought about. SUDS is needed to prevent flash flooding after heavy rain but can incorporate other benefits such as measures to assist natural diversity. The layout of the SUDS system will be determined by the existing watercourses and, at later stages, the designers will have to think about street layout and use of hard or permeable surfaces to make best use of SUDS.

In addition to being built to high insulation/low energy-use and other environmental standards, housing will include a mixture of types and sizes. This is important to foster a real community, and the design consultants recognise that the new housing needs to cater for a broad cross-section of people, just as the present village does.

Discussion of roads led to a lengthy discussion of the use of the route of the former Waverley Line to connect housing south of Newtown with the village centre. On the draft sketches, the viaduct is shown as a cycle and pedestrian route. Others felt that this needs to be a road for all types of traffic. The dilemma is that if a road is built along the viaduct from Whitehill to a point near the bottom of Bowden Road, then residents of the new houses will simply drive along this road as they head out of Newtown on commuter journeys, turning much of the present village into a traffic conduit. On the other hand, if there is no road between Whitehill and the village centre, there is a danger that residents in the south will never enter Newtown and the new housing will be, in effect, a new village.

The compromise favoured by the design consultants, and village representatives tended to agree, is to have a direct path and cycle route from the new housing into the middle of the village, to give easy access to the shops, banks, pubs and other facilities, but also to provide a secondary vehicular route via Whitelee Road so that it is possible for residents of any part of the village to drive to other parts of the settlement if they need to. Measures such as traffic calming would deter unnecessary short car journeys and ensure that commuters would find it easier to proceed to a new roundabout on the A68 for longer journeys.


Village concerns

The main point made by George Luke and Raymond du Bois on behalf of the community council was that the Masterplan Day did not address the regeneration of the village centre.

When news of the village expansion first broke in 2005, SBC promised Newtonians that this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to refurbish the village. However, the Masterplan Day gave no indication that anything would be done in the middle of the village. Will the village centre be ignored while fancy, well laid out new housing sprouts up around Newtown?

The community council has a list of the wishes, see below, of Newtonians identified during an opinion survey, seminars and two open days. These include a village square, public gardens, play parks for the young, more shops and facilities, pedestrianised or pedestrian-priority shopping area, better car parking, action to deal with traffic, relocation of Cooks Van Hire and dealing with underused sites such as Langlands Mill and the Baxter Johnson yard.

On behalf of SBC, Carol Cooke, Urban Design Officer, took a copy of the villagers’ wish list and promised to use this in the work to develop planning guidance for Newtown.

Next steps

SBC intends to share its ideas with villagers in the near future and Kevin Murray will try to repeat the public consultation parts of the Masterplan Day at that time.

We should expect to see progress early in 2009.


Draft Villagers’ Want List

From two Open Days, surveys, seminars and anecdotal comments

1 - Regenerated village centre with, in no order of priority:

Village Square
Public Gardens, play park, maze, tennis courts
Arts & craft shops
Outdoor activity shop, Cycle Hire
Coffee and light refreshments
Hardware shop
Bakery
Flower shop
Tourist Hotel
Restaurant
Fast food or Fish & Chip shop


2 - Pedestrianised shopping area, improved pedestrian safety


3 - Areas redeveloped for business, sheltered housing and community benefit:

Langland's Mill
North Oil Depot (Plainfields)
old Railway behind Langlands-Monksford
Baxter Johnson site & old engine shed


4 - New Health Centre

5 - More Shops & Library

6 - Improved car parking in shopping area

7 - Cooks Van hire business relocated

Cooks area redeveloped with St Cuthbert's Way in mind - tidied, picnic area, toilets, improved planting


8 - New housing

Traditional design & materials, emphasis on affordable, terraced houses


For further info. contact

George Luke Tel.01835 823631 - Email - george@luke1989.fsnet.co.uk

Raymond de Bois Tel 01835 823476 - Email - raymond.du.bois@virgin.net

Roger French Tel. 01835 823095 - Email - Roger@rgfrench.plus.com

Masterplan Design Day 12th Nov. - Feed-back, Scotland