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

Back to: Newtown St Boswells Village Redevelopment News/Update

Comments submitted on SBC Development Framework

Newtown St Boswells Community Council Comments on SBC Development Framework May 2011

1/ Introduction

“DF Framework prepared by SBC in discussion with local community”

More community engagement has been requested many, many times
i.e. 18 months no feed-back or discussions on draft DF or it’s contents, see Community Consultation section

2/ Background

Purpose of the development framework

Policy context

Appraisal process
Despite community requests the below sites they are not included, in their own right, in the DF and no feed-back has been received as to why not.

Langlands Mill
Derelict, eyesore building for over 20 years and during this time the village repeatedly advised by SBC that site could only be developed as a part of a major village redevelopment plan. However village now has a major development plan and the site not included in the DF document and no explanation or discussion.

Elders field
This field is adjacent to planed south development and the village understands that
access to this site will be with a new road link. It has been suggested by village that
businesses like Cooks Van Hire, Garage businesses would be better sited here
away from village centre. However no mention in DF and no discussion.

Disused north railway embankment
Requests have been made to consider for recreational activities – village park, walks, children’s play area etc. Not included in DF document and no explanation or discussion.

Vacated School site
The school site was originally a part of the village King George V planning fields and before that village tennis courts. The village wishes for involvement in discussions for the future use of this site.

Cooks Van hire site
This business has out grown this site and vehicles over flow into village roads. Community has requested for several years that SBC relocate to a more suitable site away from village centre and for some housing to be put on this site. SBC have always advised that this could only happen as a part of a major redevelopment plan which the village now has still but not included in the DF.

Appraisal process contd.

Cooks Van hire site contd.
Recently planning approval was granted for relocation of the van hire business to Baxter Johnston Yard situated right in the centre of village. This is not conducive with the development plans which is to introduce more priority for pedestrians, better traffic control and calming measures.

However the village understands that relocation to BJ is still not certain at this time and if this were the case a alternative site for relocation is needed.

Baxter Johnston Yard
This site has been vacate for several years and is situated in centre of village and the community has requested that the site forms a part of the redevelopment plan. It is recognised that because of the sites history as railway/oil depot its use is limited. However the site is not included DF document and no explanation or discussion with village has taken place.
Recently planning approval has be granted to move the Van Hire business to this site which would funnel more unwanted traffic into village centre however whether this will happen is still uncertain. If this is so the use of the site should be reconsidered for redevelopment plans.

Serviceline Garage site
This business has outgrown it’s premises and as a result has vehicles are parked permanently outside on the busy main road going through the village. The village has requested SBC to seek suitable relocation site for some time now and has been told that relocation to a more suitable premises could only happen as a part of a major village redevelopment. However the it is not included in the DF plan and no discussions with village or owner.

North Oil Depot & adjacent field next to By-pass
This is indentified in the SBC Local Plan as a future development site. People living adjacent to the site have expressed concern about the safety of the Oil and Propane gas storage tanks. This site is shown in the Local Plan as a future development site and the village would like to see it developed into a more suitable businesses use which is conducive with adjacent residential properties. However site is not included in DF plan and no discussions with village.

Summary – in the past the community has been advised by SBC that the above sites can only be considered for change if a major redevelopment plan was carried out. SBC now has a major plans for the village but these sites, in there own right, are not included in the plans or any reasons given.

Community consultation and involvement

The Community Council has requested from the very start of the redevelopment project to have full involvement and real engagement in drawing up the plans for the village redevelopment but this has not happened.

The community is very disappointed that the DF consultation has been conducted in a way where SBC unilaterally decide on what has to be studied, SBC officers carry out studies, SBC make recommendations and only then was the community asked to make comments.

With respect to the draft DF the community were invited to a walk-in display board presentation in the Community Wing in December 2009 and SBC representatives were there
Community consultation and involvement contd.

to answer questions but subsequently the community was given only a very short time to make written comments.

Despite many requests for information 18 months then followed with no discussions or feedback on which comments had been included. Then despite requests, verbal and in writing, to see the amended DF before it was approved for formal consultation the community first saw the document from a distance in the Public Gallery whilst it was approved by the Planning & Building Standards Committee.

Village Centre proposals

After a year of no engagement in February 2011, out of the blue, three members of the Community Council attended a mini presentation given by a consultant, engaged by SBC, who presented a diagram of a proposed new village centre. The village again had had no prior involvement in compiling the diagram but it was said that any comments would be taken into account. However at the end of presentation it was decided that the diagram could not be displayed on Notice Board or shown to other villagers.

A further presentation was requested for the full Community Council which took place where the Community Council members and a small number of people made comments. However some months later no changes to the proposal could be seen when the formal consultation commenced.

Also it must be said that the villagers are now becoming use to sitting in the Public Gallery at Planning & Building Standards and Full Council meetings watching the participants voting on major issues affecting Newtown St Boswells which villagers had no prior information on.

This occurred when the 900 houses were voted to be included in the Local Plan, it occurred when Planning Officers recommendation were not published before outline planning approval was given and more recently it occurred when the DF was approved to go out to formal consultation. In all these cases the community had not seen any of the documents or information given to the members of the Planning & Building Standards committee before they voted. It was know by SBC that the Local Councilor for Newtown St Boswells sitting on these committees had no contact or attended a single village Community Council meetings for several years.

12 week Formal Consultation period

During the 12 week formal consultation the village requested more information and discussions on important areas of the DF namely –

1. Village centre layout/parking and traffic movements
2. Improved community facilities and services,
3. Revitalization of village centre and business development
4. Open space, parks and children’s play areas
5. Local Path and cycle network plan

However whilst SBC did provide three names of Council Officers to contact only one meeting with the Technical/roads department actually took place, see overleaf.

12 week Formal Consultation period contd.

1/ Village centre layout/parking and traffic movements
A meeting did take place but the community requests for a Traffic Assessment study was not agreed to by the Council despite the community being advised by Herriot Watt University and Planning Aid Scotland that it was technically possible to build a model.
It was felt that with out this analysis and data any comments on the proposed village centre parking layouts and traffic volumes would be of little value and just guesswork.

2/ Improved community facilities and services
Despite several requests no Council Officer contact was advised or meeting took place to discuss Council strategy, plans, thinking about improved community services. No discussions have taken place since the Council display board presentation given in December 2009.

3/ Revitalization of village centre and business development
In all villager surveys this is a high priority and whilst mentioned in the DF since the project started the village has asked for more information as to how this can actually be achieved but no discussions have ever taken place. The village has also requested more information and advice about tourist development and job creation to no avail.
The Council Officer contact advised that he was not aware of any specific strategy, plans or thinking taking place about business development in Newtown.

4/ Open space, parks and children’s play areas
In the area of Parks, Open spaces and children’s playground the Council Officer advised that no strategy or plans had been draw up specifically for Newtown. Also because of management organizational change no one in Council currently had responsibility for this area. However the officer spoken to, who had background in this area, did offer to speak to the village but because the information wanted was about the future plans and not the past, and that only a short time was left before comments dead-line, a meeting did not take place.

Also, to our knowledge, the existing businesses in the village have not been consulted about any future development plans for their business

5/ Local Path and cycle network plan
Contact was made with the Access officer who agreed to have a chat about the plan. When advised that all members of Community Council would need to be invited along and, because some members work, could it be held in the evening no answer was received. Subsequently another officer from the Access department got in touch but it was decided there was in sufficient time to meet before the deadline 14th September.

Summary - 12 weeks formal consultation
Whilst contact names were provided, with the exception of Technical Services, no meetings covering the community priority areas could be arranged during the 12 week period. Further, non of the contacts given could give any assurance that SBC were looking into how the matters in the DF could be implemented leaving the village with the conclusion that the DF was no more than words.

The community council and village feel that the lack of participation and engagement has left them feeling detached from the development plans and very uneasy about being forced into formal consultation periods and uncertain about how much real involvement they will have in the future.

Summary 12 weeks consultation continued.

However despite the consultation dead-line 14th Sept. the village continues to request more information, real engagement and participation as recommended in the Scottish Executive Planning Advice Notes. It would like to be involved in discussions to jointly reconsider the DF plans and then to move forward to compile a plan to make the DF come to life and a reality.

To achieve this it is felt that a consultation and a project management plan for the future is urgently needed.

3/ Development framework

Area description

See previous comments under ‘Appraisal Process’

Vision, main aims and key objectives

It is suggested that below Key objectives should also include :-

 To ensure that new development positively contributes to the vibrancy/ vitality/ success of the existing village and its community (Extract from SBC Development Brief 1)

 Provision of a tangible job creation plan for local people.

 Provision of improved community facilities for all ages

 Provide opportunities for tourism through marketing, facilities, signage and provision of accommodation (Extract from SBC development Brief 1)

Village regeneration

New civic square

A fully pedestrian area is required separating people from traffic and making movement between shops, Health centre etc. possible with out crossing roads.

Whilst it is mentioned that shops and small businesses are planned for the village square in the DF document none are seen in the consultants diagram. Also the village knows of no strategy, plans or resources allocated to make this happen which is a high priority item for the community to bring back life and vitality to the village centre.

The Food Stores positioned, on an island with roads around all sides, is not considered a good idea or acceptable since with this arrangement people have to cross a road immediately outside the building to walk home or to visit other facilities in the village square. This is not considered acceptable on grounds of safety particularly for elderly and the less agile and the Food Store access should open onto a pedestrian village square.

The Square should be of sufficient size to hold Farmers markets and other village gatherings and the surface should be level for ease of use and safety for the elderly and less able.

New civic square contd.

It is suggested that the position of Health Centre between the village square and the village Green needs discussion since the building positioning could bring more light and grass in to square.

The village has no information about the planned restoration of the Mart building which is a central feature in new village centre. This is a listed building and the village would like to have discussions to find out what options are available for it’s use and more information about how it is to be restored.

Car Parking & traffic movements

Car parking, traffic movements and safety are considered by people in the village to be very high priority therefore a Transport Assessment study has been requested. Two previous TA have been carried out but neither cover the new village centre per se or the total growing population of the new village.

There is a need to ensure that adequate parking space is available as the village population expands in accordance with Local Plan. To achieve this it is important not to allocate all space around village centre, as shown in diagram, to housing leaving none for car parking expansion.

Whilst it is accepted that the DF is at a ‘high level’ stage the diagram does allocate space to housing, village square, Health Centre etc. including street car parking. However it is not possible to make any valid comments with out further information from a Transport Assessment analysis of road layout, traffic movement and parking requirements as the village quadruples in size to that approaching the size of Jeburgh.

It is felt that the requested TA study needs to be designed not as a one ‘snap shot’ assessment but for use as an on going tool where initially assumption on the shop levels etc. can be used which can be firmed up as the project develops. We feel it should take into account different stages of house build numbers i.e. at 400 houses, at 600 houses, at
800 houses etc. and input assumptions of different number of shops/small businesses so that parking and traffic movement levels can be seen for each scenarios.

4/ General development requirements

Housing and design

The adoption of the Place Making and Design SPG guide in the DF is very welcomed.

Some affordable housing are required for local people however it should it should be born in mind that Newtown has already 87% of existing houses originating from Council housing and many terraced properties. It is important to bring a better balance to the village so that all social groups are represented in the community.

With regard to affordable and rented accommodation priority to be given to local people which we understand has been discussed previously at government level.

More sheltered housing is required for local people.

Open space
DF comments generally good but community would like some discussions on this ?

The village strongly prefers the new school to be positioned centrally possibly on the Council Roads depot site. Being central it would help integrated the old and new communities and be in walking distance of most housing. If the site cannot contain the out side space required for the school this could be positioned a short distance away on corner of South development in the planned recreational area.

The DF makes no mention of any plans to use the existing school site when it is vacated and the community would like to be involved in discussion for it’s future use.

Community facilities

Shops/Small businesses
A village high priority is to see the new village centre with shops, small businesses and retail outlets bringing back life and vitality to the village centre. These are mentioned in the DF but no discussions have taken place to explain how this will happen or who will pursue this ?

Health Centre
The village would like to have information on this new facility and what services are planned to be provided, how many doctors, consulting rooms, parking spaces etc. However no one from SBC, NHS or local GP practice seems to have this information or is willing to discuss with the community

We are told by SBC that village should talk to NHS for more information on this new facility but when speaking to NHS they advise us they have no knowledge of the latest new Health Centre Plans ? At a community requested meeting with NHS management they asked if they could have a copy of the SBC/consultant’s sketch of the village centre proposals because they had not seen it before !

Improved Community Facilities
No mention or discussions have taken place about studying existing community facilities and forming a strategy or plan to provide facilities for the Local Plan large scale expansion of population. i.e. the provision of a new Community building, a Day Centre for the elderly, nursery etc. ?

DF mentions that ‘there is an opportunity to reinforce the provision of community facilities ( such as arts and cultural services, sport, health and physical education services and community learning and development) and perhaps a community library plus a broad range of services) but the village has no idea how this will happen ?

No discussion have taken place about the restoration of the Mart octagon building or it’s possible usage by the community.

The community have requested to have discussions with SBC about what community facilities are required to accommodate the large scale population growth created by the Local Plan, This would enable community to make valid comments before the formal consultation dead-line expires. Despite requests to meet appropriate SBC Officers this did not happen.

Employment infrastructure

The village wishes to see the same urgency placed on a plan to create new jobs as that put on the house building plans. However no discussions or information has been given to the community this ?

We are told that jobs will be created in the planned Tweed Horizon business Park but no information has been given to the community as to when this is likely to happen ?
The community would like to know how many jobs could be created ?
Based on a recent planning approval for a smaller scale business development on this site it is speculated by the village that over 1,500 jobs could be created on this site which will have a substantial affect on the village and needs to be taken into account.

One matter we would like to discuss how employees from this site will access the new village centre – pedestrian bridge, tunnel since not mention of this seen in the DF ?

Does SBC support mixed housing and small/clean business development on the new housing sites ?

The community has request to have discussions with Council management about developing tourism business would create local jobs in this area so as to be able to make valid comments before the formal consultation dead-line expires. This did not happen.

IT infrastructure
Plans in DF very welcomed

On the Mart development the village has requested that a gap be left in the house layout for a possible spur road onto the new Mart roundabout. This will offer a future option if require to ease village centre traffic at a later stage of the village development.

It has been suggested that access to the Mart development could be assisted with a new road alongside Langlands Mill which would help keep traffic away from village centre. However this is not included in DF.

When the south and west developments are completed the village will have some 95% of population plus the new school on the opposite side of the main road to the new village centre. In the interests of ease of access and safety a pedestrian a bridge across the main road should be planned for installation as the population increases. 70 years ago the railway could justify a pedestrian bridge to assist people across the road to the Station so why can it not be justified now with a significantly much larger population ?

Local Path/Cycle Network

The village has been requesting to be involved in the Local Path/Cycle network to be included in the development plan for over two years. However in 2010 were told that discussions would happen early 2011 but to date we have heard nothing or been consulted.

Submitted 13the September 2011

Comments submitted on SBC Development Framework , Scotland