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

Back to: Newtown St Boswells Village Redevelopment News/Update


Update from SBC Planning and Economic Development Director 31st July

Following the disappointment at the Developers meeting, reported on this Web Site previously, the SBC Planning and Economic Development Director, Ian Lindley, has written to Community Council to explain in detail exactly what is happing in the planning application process affecting the village.

His letter also covers his intentions to improve communications with the Community Council/village which are very welcomed.

Also his letter gives an update of the work that SBC has been involved in todate regarding regeneration items and a copy of his letter is shown in full below.

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Letter from SBC Planning and Economic Development Director


Roger,

Thank you for your comments from your meeting with the developers on their Master Plan proposals for the south/westerly expansion of Newtown.

In General

It is important to distinguish between the Master Plan, (commissioned for Elphinstone / Buccleuch) for this development area and any Development Framework plan, (to be prepared by the Council) for the whole of the village.

First, the Master Plan steers the distribution of proposed land uses, the density of development and the relationship between land uses such as open space, developed areas, highways and incidental amenity spaces for example. The Master Plan should thus show, for example, housing, schooling and community land uses, together with play, sport, school-related and casual recreational green spaces. From this it is possible to see how different parts of the development and how new development and existing development will relate to each other; how neighbourhoods are created; how the development addresses the adjoining countryside; how rights of way and access are to be handled and gives the Local Planning Authority (LPA) an insight into the thought processes that have been used.

The Master Plan affects land in the control of the developer and may or may not prove acceptable to the LPA. Please do not therefore assume that what is shown on the Master Plan automatically comes with our support. We will not know how many of our suggestions have been accommodated until we assess the plan and can then take comments from yourselves into our decision making.

Communications

As you are aware, the protracted timescale around this development has made community engagement very difficult, with long periods with no progress to report. However, I can now confirm that the Outline Planning Application was received on Thursday 23rd July and will be assessed by the LPA over the coming weeks. As part of this process we will consult with the Community Council and other consultees under standard statutory processes. In addition and from hereon, I confirm that we will liaise with you in addition to any of these usual consultation arrangements, on a monthly basis as a minimum to inform you of progress / no progress and to seek to respond to any arising questions. Whilst I cannot undertake to give you 100% attention at all times - I have limited resources with which to serve the whole region - I accept that the significant nature of this development deserves additional attention and liaison with yourselves. We genuinely value the comments of the Community Council, and whilst we may not always be agree with every comment that you raise, we will give you feedback on our reasoning.

Julie Hayward is the Development Management member of staff for the planning application and will remain the main point of contact on the planning application. In terms of general regeneration issues and community updates, Julie Hogg will relay coordinated information from this department by email to Raymond and field any questions. If we are in discussion with other departments / services on the planning application or regeneration issues for Newtown, we will try to relay coordinated views, but there will remain a whole range of other Council services with which we are not in direct discussion and I will not be able to address those services in this arrangement. If face to face meetings can be mutually accommodated we can supplement these arrangements.

Specific Issues

I am aware that the earlier Master Plan version did not show any school site and whilst the developers have been party to our discussions on options for siting the school, they were also clearly advised to show such a site within their land for a single new school as a fall back. It is disingenuous of them to suggest that is due to lack of clarity by the Council. I hope they have now rectified this situation in their revised Master Plan.

Similarly, concerning a Transport Assessment (TA) for the school, the developers should be clearly aware of the need to run different TA options with the school in different locations.

In terms of access from the southern extension, I understand that the developer is proposing to connect a road / footpath / cycle path along the former railway corridor to the Bowden Rd, (keeping a corridor free of development for use if the railway line is to be re-opened). The TA will be run on that basis. We will assess the acceptability of such a route. I understand a separate cycle / footpath more directly to the village centre is also shown on the Master Plan.

Concerning paths not included in the Core Path Plan, we see these as very clearly relevant to the new development where they abut / link to / or are likely to be used by occupants of the new development. Because such routes will be affected by greater use, they are relevant as part of our developer negotiations for appropriate treatment / signage / interpretation / upgrade. Community Council aspirations have not been forgotten in this respect.

You queried the lack of apparent developer benefits for the centre of the village. We will seek to negotiate suitable contributions towards the creation / upgrade of the village centre / square / green with the developers, acknowledging that in the light of the recession we are needing to work with developers over the timing of any such benefits. Any such design work around the village centre will need to involve the local community and if - through this application - we have a clear delivery mechanism for at least a phase of this development (to which other developers would be expected to contribute) then it is now worth moving forward to clarify its location, design, cost etc.

In terms of the development framework, we have undertaken various assessments including the cost of moving the depot, cost of expanding or moving the school, potential use of the Baxter J site v its purchase cost including cost of decontamination, alternative sites for Cooks, site allocation for NHS, alternative accesses for the southern expansion to the village centre, upgrading the central 'square' of the village etc and explored many different delivery mechanisms for these different aspects.

With the economic downturn many 'traditional' mechanisms cannot currently be used and the developments that could be expected to deliver benefits are not progressing, (such as the Mart). In the last two months I have incidentally met with Rydens as agents of the Mart and have reiterated my happiness to discuss issues with them in detail around funding, timing, phasing etc. I have heard nothing since. The market is not right for many developments at present and thus I have diverted staff to work on other pressing matters which were not in our work programme (including the 60M town centre regeneration fund from Scottish Government). This is consuming all available resources and may continue to do so until March 31st.

I hope this message can go some way to reassure you that your involvement has not been the waste of time you fear. This is a long game and is far from complete.

Regards

Ian Lindley
SBC Planning and Economic Development Director

Update from SBC Planning and Economic Development Director 31st July , Scotland