Scottish Borders

Borders bird conservation centre proposals lodged

Plans have been submitted for a conservation and breeding centre for endangered birds in the Scottish Borders.

Community interest company Birds Gardens Scotland wants to develop a 200 square metre visitor centre made from straw and lime morter at its site in Oxton, near Lauder.

The building will provide a classroom, conference facilities, a resource area, library, coffee shop, and outdoor play area.

Owen Joiner, the conservation biologist behind the organisation, said: “We’re delighted that planning permission has been granted and work can now beginning on the build. We will be using traditional techniques to construct the centre and hope that local groups and students will get involved in the process. Once open, the centre will showcase a more sustainable way of living; the café will use food grown in our kitchen garden and a reed bed water filtration system will be installed to process waste. As the entrance to the grounds, the centre will provide a place to meet, learn and play.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this point but with the help of Business Gateway Scottish Borders we have been able to establish safe and ethical working protocols. Our adviser, Wilma Norris, has been fabulous. Her guidance has been invaluable and her understanding of all aspects of business from social media strategy to IT is exemplary. She sees the person, and the organisation, and then she visualises how it should work.”

Wilma Norris, adviser at Business Gateway, added: “Bird Gardens Scotland is an exciting project that has the potential to bring real benefits to the region. Faced with a raft of complicated paperwork, Owen turned to us for guidance and used our advice to establish both his health and safety policy and policies pertaining to children and vulnerable people. He has also benefited from our knowledge of local funding packages, successfully applying for money to build pathways that now traverse the grounds.”

Council agrees plans to build intergenerational campus in Jedburgh

Scottish Borders Council has agreed to proposals to build an intergenerational learning campus in Jedburgh and formally close the existing nursery, primary, secondary and specialist provision in the town.

Stallan-Brand Architects, working alongside the council, hub South EastBAM and TGP, are set to deliver a 434 -space primary, 550 pupil secondary and a nursery to replace outdated existing facilities in the town.

A statutory consultation on the plans was undertaken between 8 May to 18 June 2017, with feedback received incorporated into a report that was approved by the council’s executive in November 2017.

The proposal will result in the permanent closure of Jedburgh Grammar as well as the nursery and primary provisions at Howdenburn and Parkside schools.

Howdenburn Schoolhouse will also be closed and the educational support for secondary aged pupils with additional support needs transferred to the new campus.

The school catchment zones for Howdenburn Primary, Parkside Primary and Jedburgh Grammar will be rezoned to the new campus. This will also be the case for the Ancrum Primary P6 and P7 pupils who currently transition to Parkside.

Councillor Carol Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for children and young people, said: “I am delighted that we now have full agreement to these proposals and can progress with our plans to create this unique and much anticipated replacement school provision for Jedburgh with the educational opportunities that it has potential to provide for people of all ages.

“There has been extensive consultation and public engagement throughout the process as it was important to make sure that pupils, family members, staff and the wider Jedburgh community were fully engaged with the proposals. We would like thank everyone who took part for their responses and the support we have received. We now look forward to working together and making this vision a reality.”

The Scottish Government has been informed of the council’s decision and now has an eight week period of further consideration. Members of the public are also entitled to submit any further representations directly to the Scottish Government during the three week period from Thursday 21 December to Wednesday 10 January 2018.

Tweedbank innovation park plans approved

SBC MasterplanCouncillors have agreed to progress plans for an innovation park in Tweedbank to provide modern facilities for new and expanding businesses and support future private investment in the area.

Scottish Borders Council has already identified capital funds for the project, which will see the development and improvement of council-owned land.

It is proposed that funding from the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal is finalised for the project, with additional support from Scottish Enterprise and the Borders Railway Blueprint group to be confirmed.

Councillors also unanimously agreed to the adoption of a Simplified Planning Zone (SPZ) for Tweedbank which enables development to take place without the need for planning consent, provided it complies with development parameters and conditions. This will make the location more attractive for businesses considering relocating to the Borders and the development of premises quicker.

An independent report in 2013 identified that commercial office space near the Borders Railway terminus could create up to 350 new jobs, and as a result a project to develop new business infrastructure in Tweedbank was included in the Borders Railway Blueprint document to build on the potential of the railway itself.

Currently just one high quality modern office premise is immediately available in the central Borders, and there is no modern manufacturing space available. The council is therefore seeking to take a lead role in developing new employment infrastructure to attract inward investment, new jobs to the area, and allow existing local businesses to expand.

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “There is an exciting opportunity for the council to work with key partners to develop high quality office and manufacturing facilities in Tweedbank which will provide an exceptional opportunity for businesses to start, grow and move here. This in an attractive location with excellent transport links, and which benefits from Assisted Area Status, which means businesses can receive grants for eligible business development.

“Following today’s meeting, the council will now undertake detailed business cases for the projects and aim to get support from the Borders Railway Blueprint group and Scottish Enterprise to progress these developments, in addition to finalising funds available through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

“These developments would not only provide new business opportunities but would set the scene for more extensive private sector investment in the vicinity and kick-start the development of an innovation park which would provide an economic hub and many hundreds of new jobs for the area.

“By building on the success of the Borders Railway and maximising its positive impact on the local economy we can strengthen the case for expansion of the railway to Hawick and beyond, and as such this project is not only important for the central Borders but the wider area too.”

On the Simplified Planning Zone agreement, Councillor Tom Miers, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for planning and environment, said: “The SPZ will make it faster and easier for inward investors to develop their business in the innovation park. With a package of other measures the innovation park is becoming a very attractive prospect for businesses looking to relocate or grow.

“In all, these measures are in line with the council’s priorities to encourage investment and jobs across the Borders with a flexible and business friendly approach to planning and other areas of policy.”

As part of the Borders Railway Blueprint programme, masterplans for Galashiels and Tweedbank are in the process of being created.

These will set out a medium to long term strategy for both communities through the allocation of spaces for commercial, retail, residential and community facilities, as well as roads and utilities.

This will allow the Local Development Plan to be updated and encourage investors to understand the opportunities available in both communities. A series of local engagement events have already taken place.

Hart Builders signs innovative partnership agreement with Eildon Housing Association

(from left) Back row: Alastair Dee, Colin Macdonald, Gill Henry, Kevin Scott, Nile Istephan.  Front row: Cathie Fancy, Kevin Stewart, Councillor Mark Rowley

(from left) Back row: Alastair Dee, Colin Macdonald, Gill Henry, Kevin Scott, Nile Istephan.
Front row: Cathie Fancy, Kevin Stewart, Councillor Mark Rowley

An innovative partnership agreement has been signed between Eildon Housing Association and Hart Builders which will deliver at least 388 high quality new affordable homes across nine sites in the Borders.

During a visit to the first of these developments to get underway, at Sergeants Park, Newtown St Boswells, the minister witnessed

The formal signing of an agreement will be a key plank in the record breaking investment being made in the Borders by Eildon Housing Association, supported by Scottish Government grant funding.

Handovers will commence in the spring of 2018 once the first houses at Sergeants Park in Newtown St Boswells are completed; after completion Eildon will have provided 115 new homes on this site.

The Partnership is looking to deliver at least 127 new homes in Galashiels along with an extra care scheme for older people providing 38 self-contained apartments. 66 new homes are planned at the former high school site in Earlston with further plans to redevelop Tweedbridge Court in Peebles, replacing it with a mix of 34 houses and flats.

A key element of the Partnership is to work with local communities to create a legacy that goes beyond the provision of the new homes, as such Eildon and Hart Builders are working with the Borders College to explore training, employment and other community benefits that can be factored into the programme.

Kevin Stewart, minister for local government and housing, has offered his support to the agreement and said: “Making sure everyone has a safe, warm and affordable home is central to our drive for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland – and our ambition to deliver 50,000 affordable homes during the lifetime of this Parliament will help to deliver this.

“I am therefore delighted that our support of Eildon Housing Association will help this innovative partnership with Hart Builders to provide 388 much needed affordable homes at nine sites across the Borders, and I’d like to congratulate all those involved in getting the first of these developments underway.

“I also welcome the news that over the next three years this building programme will deliver a wide range of benefits for local communities- including employment opportunities, schools’ initiatives and site based work experience.”

Colin Macdonald, MD, Hart Builders (Edinburgh), said: “Hart Builders are delighted to formalise and extend our successful working relationship with Eildon. Working in partnership on nine sites over the next three years offers a unique opportunity to showcase the benefits of a multi-disciplinary approach to developing much needed affordable homes in the Borders. Many of the sites involved in the programme have challenging constraints that require innovative technical solutions which need tested to ensure buildability, affordability and long-term sustainability can be maximised.

“Equally important, our partnership also allows us to jointly develop a wide range of community benefits and offer local training and employment opportunities, capacity building for local businesses, schools initiatives, site based work experience in conjunction with DYW and Scottish Borders College and hopefully some interesting community projects which residents of all ages can be involved in.”

Nile Istephan, chief executive of Eildon, added: “Eildon is delighted to be taking forward this record breaking investment in our local communities. The social and economic impact of housing investment is truly transformational, and the scale of this investment will generate benefits for our communities for generations to come. We appreciate the grant support provided by the Scottish Government alongside our partnership arrangements with Scottish Borders Council, in taking this work forward.

“The scale of the programme, covering several years and being delivered across various sites, means that we are able to carefully plan the delivery of these new homes to make the maximum impact in terms of new homes and training and employment opportunities. We look forward to working with Hart Builders, their sub-contractors, our wider design teams, as well as SBHA, in delivering this ambitious programme.”

Shop demolition approved to make way for Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre

How the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre will look once completed

How the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre will look once completed

Scottish Borders Council has approved the demolition of a shop to make way for a permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

The removal of the former Poundstretcher store in Galashiels, as well as internal and external alterations to the nearby old Post Office, has been given the green light by councillors.

Submitted for planning earlier this year, the £6.7 million scheme would see the two buildings linked to create the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre with a completion target for the project in early 2020.

The project proposes converting the Grade B listed former Post Office building, complemented by a bespoke new building designed by architects Page\Park.

The new attraction would include a permanent home for the Tapestry – a 143 metre long community arts project which involved over 1,000 volunteers stitching the entire story of Scotland – as well as temporary space for exhibitions, and flexible space for education, learning and events. In addition, the plans include space for community and retail facilities including a café.

It is estimated that the visitor centre would help employ 16 full-time equivalent (FTE) posts, attract over 50,000 extra visitors to Galashiels every year and provide additional annual spending of almost £900,000 to the local economy, supporting a further 17 FTE jobs.

The application also includes plans to introduce interpretation and art installations across the town centre, which would encourage visitors from the nearby Borders Railway to visit the Tapestry, as well as increase footfall and spend in Galashiels.

Work begins on two new Borders school facilities

The Galashiels Academy support centre

The Galashiels Academy support centre

Work has got underway to create a support centre for pupils with complex needs at Galashiels Academy and a new nursery at St Boswells Primary School.

The new £625,000 facility at Galashiels Academy will provide a dedicated learning environment in the heart of the school for children with complex and difficult learning requirements.

It will be located adjacent to the dining and PE areas to enable increased access for these pupils to wider school activities.

The centre will have its own dedicated entrance to accommodate varied access times if required.

The new extension at St Boswells Primary will see a dedicated early years centre provided for pre-school children.

The £600,000 centre will have its own entrance and is designed to encouraged outside learning and play. The extension has been designed to accommodate 40 children and will help Scottish Borders Council meet the Scottish Government’s initiative to increase the provision of free early learning and childcare provision.

The new extension at St Boswells Primary

The new extension at St Boswells Primary

The design of both facilities is by the council’s own architects’ team, who also carried out the design of the new Leader Valley School in Earlston in February 2017, while the contractor for both projects is Hawick-based firm James Swinton & Co.

St Boswells Primary’s early years facility is due to be finished in April 2018, while the support centre at Galashiels Academy is due to be completed by May 2018. Special procedures are in place to ensure the safety of staff and pupils during the construction period at both schools.

There are also parking restrictions at Galashiels Academy during the construction phase, which staff, parents, pupils and visitors have been asked to adhere to.

Councillor Carol Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for children and young people, said: “These are exciting developments for both schools and will provide significantly improved facilities which will help our young people to learn.

“I look forward to seeing the completion of both projects in 2018.”

Milestone as Extra Care Housing partnership submits first planning application

EILDON-Group-Logo

The first step in a £40 million partnership programme to create 150 new extra care housing properties in the Borders has been taken.

Plans for 39 new flats have been submitted by Eildon Housing Association on the site of a former warehouse at Glenfield Industrial Estate in Galashiels.

The application is the first in the partnership programme with Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) which will see major investment in this type of housing model, which will enable a significantly greater number of elderly and vulnerable adults across the Borders to continue to live independently and receive care and support in their own homes.

Extra care housing offers the possibility of supporting higher levels of dependency but also providing an environment for lively and active old age and is based on self-contained flats, rather than small rooms as in residential care, and is available 24 hours a day.

Councillor David Parker, depute chair of the Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board, said: “Alongside the RSLs, the Council wants to assist older and vulnerable people to live at home, and the most obvious way to do so is to increase the supply and availability of extra care housing as alternatives to current residential care home provision.

“It is estimated that over 60 per cent of people going into residential care could have avoided or delayed this if extra care housing had been available in their area.

“Our partnership programme, including our first proposed development in Galashiels, can help contribute to meeting the needs of the growing elderly population of the Borders.”

Councillor Mark Rowley, SBC’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, added: “The proposed extra care housing development at Galashiels would not only benefit the older and vulnerable people living in these new flats, but support the local economy and local jobs.

“The partnership programme is part of the Strategic Housing Investment Plan, which could see well over £150million invested into affordable housing over five years, with SBC and partners delivering up to 1,000 homes in that time.

“If approved, this development will be the exciting first milestone towards the partnership programme’s target of 150 new extra care houses across the Borders.”

Nile Istephan, chief executive of Eildon Housing Association, said: “If approved, this major investment will result in the regeneration of this site and creation of a major community asset for Galashiels.

“Eildon Housing is delighted to be working in partnership with Scottish Borders Council on this project, and hopefully others in the future, which will provide state of the art housing options for our growing older population.”

 The Galashiels extra care housing planning application is available to view at SBC’s website.

Geology-inspired Jedburgh schools campus plans submitted

Jedburgh School

(Image: Scottish Borders Council)

Plans have been lodged by Scottish Borders Council to demolish a primary to make way for a new facility merging three schools in Jedburgh.

Working alongside Borders Council, Hub South East, BAM and TGP, the team are set to deliver a 434 -space primary, 550 pupil secondary and a nursery to replace outdated existing facilities in the town.

The project is one of four to share £28m from the latest phase of the Schools for the Future programme.

It would see Parkside Primary knocked down and merged with Howdenburn Primary and Jedburgh Grammar on a campus for children aged two to 18.

Stallan-Brand Architects, which has submitted the plans on behalf of the local authority, said: “The strong banding makes reference to the horizontal layering of Jedburgh Abbey, and the roof-forms create a distant character to the building which reacts the vernacular of the Jedburgh townscape of roofs and spires.

“The intention is to integrate planting on, and around, the wall forms to reinforce the concept of the landform drawn from the hillside.”

If the project receives approval it is hoped the new facility at Hartrigge Park could be open by 2020.

Galashiels tapestry visitor centre plans submitted

36949554480_5ca9339d3f_zThe next step towards regenerating Galashiels has been made with the submission of a planning application to create the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre.

The proposed visitor attraction at the former Post Office and Poundstretcher buildings will be a catalyst for significant economic, social and educational benefits for Galashiels.

If approved, it is estimated that the £6.7 million visitor centre would help employ 16 full-time equivalent (FTE) posts, attract over 50,000 extra visitors to Galashiels every year and provide additional annual spending of almost £900,000 to the local economy, supporting a further 17 FTE jobs.

The project proposes converting the Grade B listed former Post Office building, complemented by a bespoke new building designed by architects Page\Park, who are currently leading the restoration of the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building.

The new attraction would include a permanent home for the Tapestry – a 143 metre long community arts project which involved over 1,000 volunteers stitching the entire story of Scotland – as well as temporary space for exhibitions, and flexible space for education, learning and events. In addition, the plans include space for community and retail facilities including a café.

The application also includes plans to introduce interpretation and art installations across the town centre, which would encourage visitors from the nearby Borders Railway to visit the Tapestry, as well as increase footfall and spend in Galashiels.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre already has funding of £2.5m from the Scottish Government, and the facility is at the centre of a Regeneration Capital Grant Fund application to the Scottish Government.

The project is being delivered in close partnership with all of the key local community organisations such as Energise Galashiels, creative and business groups, Heriot-Watt University and Borders College. It is only through this close working relationship that this exciting project can be jointly delivered.

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “The submission of the planning application for the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre is the next step towards creating one of the most significant town centre economic development projects to take place in the Scottish Borders in recent years.

“If approved, the visitor centre will be more than a home for the Great Tapestry, but also provide educational, retail and community facilities to benefit a wide variety of groups.

“The visitor centre would also be the first stage of a long-term strategy to stimulate investment in the local economy, and it is pleasing that local groups are supportive of this approach.

“The council and partners are committed to continuing to engage with these groups to ensure they remain at the heart of the regeneration of Galashiels.”

If approved, it is expected the visitor centre would be completed by spring 2020.

Councillors agree sites for hundreds of new Scottish Borders homes

Scottish Borders CouncilNew guidance which has identified sites for more than 800 additional houses in the Borders has been given the green light by councillors.

Scottish Borders Council’s Local Development Plan for housing was adopted more than a year ago with details of sites identified for housing developments.

But the Scottish Government flagged up a need for many more homes to be built in order to address a housing shortfall.

The initial figure of 916 identified by Holyrood was gradually reduced to 811 due to current live applications being included.

Following a lengthy consultation exercise a full list of the accepted – and rejected – sites went in front of Scottish Borders Council last week.

The full list of sites included in the Finalised Supplementary Guidance on Housing list are…

  • Land North of High Street, Ayton (six units)
  • Hillview North (Phase 1), Coldstream (100 units)
  • Reston Long Term 2, Reston (38 units)
  • Lintburn Street, Galashiels (eight units)
  • Rose Court, Galashiels (12 units)
  • Former Castle Warehouse Site, Galashiels (30 units)
  • Leishman Place, Hawick (five units)
  • Henderson Road, Hawick (six units)
  • Fairhurst Drive Factory, Hawick (10 units)
  • Tweed Court, Kelso (15 units)
  • Nethershot (Phase 2), Kelso (100 units)
  • Former High School Site, Kelso (50 units)
  • The Orchard, Newstead (six units)
  • Angles Field, Selkirk (30 units)
  • Heather Mill, Selkirk (75 units)
  • Lowood, Tweedbank (300 units)
  • Caerlee Mill, Innerleithen (35 units)
  • Rosetta Road Mixed Use, Peebles (30 units)
  • March Street Mill, Peebles (70 units).

A site at Newstead was removed from the list and both Philiphaugh Mill and Philiphaugh Farm in Selkirk were also taken off the proposed sites.

Attempts by developers to include Venlaw Hill in Peebles, land next to Whitehaugh in Peebles, a vast site at Whitehill near Newtown St Boswells and additional land at Robinsland at West Linton were also unsuccessful.

Lead planning officer Charles Johnston said: “In terms of the location of site options to meet the required 811 units, the Reporters did not state where these units should be located within the Scottish Borders.

“It was therefore considered that taking into account matters such as housing land take-up, development interest and population projections the split should roughly be within the identified Local Development Plan Housing Market Areas as follows – Central 60%, Berwickshire 20% and Northern 20%.”