In the course of its monthly business agenda Peebles Civic Society Committee attends to many important and current issues. When these matters are discussed and decisions are made it may result in necessary correspondence being sent to Officers of the Council and other persons to advance such matters. Following are some current items of key correspondence.
Peebles Civic Society
163 West George Street
4 December 2012
Rosetta Holiday Park – Pre-planning Consultation
We thank you for the opportunity to see the pre-planning application consultation exhibition. We welcome the initiative being taken to improve the holiday park facilities. However, we do think that this is being done at some cost to the visual qualities of the site and the surrounding countryside.
1. Housing to fund the works.
We note from your handout that “In order to commit to the level of investment required to achieve these aims and create a significant positive tourism facility which is not currently available in Peebles, it has been identified that an element of housing could be incorporated --------which will be able to fund improvements to the holiday park ----- This additional investment would also provide the required funding to repair and upgrade the existing listed building and stable blocks on the park”
With regard to building more houses in Peebles we refer you to the SESPlan Structure Plan and the current Local Plan Main Issues Report that is currently being considered by the Council. It is our considered view that for the period until 2018 the housing provision has been met and in our view exceeded. For the period 2019 – 2024 the SESPlan and Local Plan Main Issues Report states that only 100 houses for the entire Western Development Area are planned. That includes Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Eddleston.
However in order to improve the facilities and to secure the long term future of the Holiday Park some limited development might be acceptable if the Scottish Borders Planning Authority are convinced that the business plan for the holiday park is sustainable on economic grounds in the long term. We are concerned that financial failure in the future could create a situation where the precedent set for housing on the site is extended to allow even more housing to be built in the future.
We were disappointed that there was no indication of a housing site layout.
We consider that as the area shown for housing is within the curtilege of a group of listed buildings (B) and C(S) in an established parkland landscape, Historic Scotland should be consulted and Listed Building Consent sought. We are concerned to ensure that the landscape character of the surroundings to the listed buildings is respected and preserved.
We note that area 1 is to have 60 lodges and as these are dark brown timber they would not impact on the landscape provided that planting was incorporated in between the lodges.
We are very concerned that area 5 which is high on the valley side, is to have static caravans. We consider this to be unacceptable. Static caravans are mostly light coloured with a hard rectangular shape and can be seen from quite a distance, specially in winter. The presence of static caravans in area 2 illustrates this characteristic well. We see that there has been no attempt to use tree planting in this area to lessen the visual impact.
The Landscape Capacity Study for Peebles North West lists opinions on sensitivity to the hillsides and the land below, along the river. The settlement edge is given “Views and Visual Features High Sensitivity” and the study states that “these slopes are highly visible from the A703 and from elevated viewpoints along the valley sides’’. We therefore cannot support the proposal to have static caravans in area 5.
We are concerned that the existing road links both to the town centre along Rosetta Road and March street and to the A703 at the Crossings junction, are quite inadequate for the volumes of traffic which any major housing development and extended Holiday Park will generate. A comprehensive traffic study will be necessary to demonstrate how acceptable traffic flows can be obtained.
We are concerned that there has been no planning brief undertaken for this development by Scottish Borders Council to set the parameters for the design of the development, as this is a significant site within the Peebles settlement boundary. In addition a full traffic study should be undertaken.
We conclude that further consultation should be held once the housing layout design and traffic study are taken further, so that numbers and impact on the parkland landscape can be reviewed and traffic requirements satisfied. Until that is done we reserve our position.
We cannot support the proposal to have static caravans on plot 5.
Ronald Ireland, Chairman
Copies to – Tweeddale Councillors
Director of Environment & Infrastructure, Scottish Borders
Peebles & District Community Council
Scottish Borders Council Local Development Plan
Main Issues Report
Q 1 Yes we agree
Q 2 Yes we agree
Q3 Yes we agree but we suggest that the definition and housing numbers used for the Western SDA and Northern Housing Market Areas are finally consolidated into one clear quantity to avoid confusion in the future.
Section 5 Economic Development.
Q4 Yes we agree to Western Borders proposal b) but with regard to the Whithaugh site Appendix A1 Western SDA site MPEEB004 we would suggest that a site master plan is prepared and that employment land is identified. Structure planting should be undertaken as soon as the site is agreed so that adequate landscape screening is achieved well in advance of construction. Under the heading Site Requirements reference should be made to the condition that no development takes place in advance of the completion of the Second Tweed Crossing.
Q5 Yes we agree to the preferred option.
Section 5 Housing.
Q7 We agree with the preferred option but we suggest that the definition and housing numbers used for the Western SDA and Northern Housing Market Areas are finally consolidated into one clear quantity to avoid confusion in the future. We note that the requirement for 2019 – 2024 for the Western SDA states 100 houses. There is always pressure from house builders for more development in Peebles and this should be strictly controlled.
Q8 No. We disagree with the proposed preferred option for Peebles to develop site APEEB021 We are very concerned about the increase in vehicular traffic along Caledonian Road that would be caused by the addition of 50 houses. Also, the current Local Plan has a presumption against further housing development to the south of the River Tweed on account of the capacity of the Tweed Bridge and its approaches. We would prefer the alternative site APEEB041 as it is a logical extension of the site TP200 in the current Local Plan providing that Rosetta Road can cope with the additional vehicular traffic.
Q9 Yes We agree with the preferred option.
Q10 Yes We agree with the preferred option.
Q11 No observations
Q12 Yes We agree with the preferred option but suggest that preference should always be given to Class 1 units. Prime town centre frontage areas should be identified in all towns in the town centre network.
Q 13 Yes we agree with the preferred option.
Q 14 Yes we agree with the preferred option. We are pleased that a number of significant sites in Peebles are identified in Appendix A5. Whilst GSPEEB001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007 and GSPEEB010 are recognised major public open spaces and unlikely to come under development pressure, GSPEEB008, 009,and 011 could well come under development pressure and we welcome their inclusion.
However, there are also other but smaller areas of open green spaces in Peebles such as the triangle green on Edderston Road, wooded areas at the end of Edderston Road to Craigerne Lane, a number of open green areas in the housing estates bounded by Victoria Park, Kingsmeadows Road and Glen Road that are valuable recreational areas and contribute to the pleasant character of these estates. These are just some examples and we feel that such areas should be recognised in the Local Plan and given protection under the preferred option.
Q15 Yes We agree with the preferred option.
Q 16 We agree with the preferred options a) and b) but cannot accept preferred option c). We consider that alternative option c) should be adopted on account of the very sensitive landscape of the Scottish Borders with its areas of outstanding natural beauty and of historic value.
Q 17 Yes We agree to this proposal.
Section 6 General Policy Issues.
Q 18 We are in general agreement with the proposals but would welcome the opportunity to comment on individual policies as they are amended.
Letter sent on 10 February 2012
Ms Jane Webster
Legal and Democratic Services
Scottish Borders Council
Newtown St. Boswells
Melrose TD6 0SA
Scottish Borders Council: Proposed Traffic Regulation Order,
We thank you for the opportunity to review and comment on this traffic regulation order with the revised proposals for amending the parking along the Eastgate.
Whilst we welcome the proposal to increase the waiting stands for taxis we have a number of concerns that we feel that you should take into account. The proposed amendments to the Eastgate and Innerleithen Road to the east of Tweedbrae have a number of shortcomings that we feel would outweigh the proposal for increased parking along this part of the road:
· Because of the acute angle of the junction of Tweed Brae and Eastgate looking east, visibility for drivers exiting from Tweed Brae is already limited, and the fact that there are no parked cars on the south side of the main road at present means that the distant stream of traffic can at least be seen over the pavement and wall.
· At present all the parking spaces are along one side of the road. However, the proposal to create the new taxi spaces on the south side opposite the McCarthy & Stone entrance, while retaining the existing parking spaces outside Osso, would create a pinch point and an awkward line for traffic to follow. For part of the road journey traffic would follow the north pavement line and then the driving line moves over to the south side whereas at present traffic simply follows the south pavement line for the entire length of this part of the journey from the roundabout to the junction with Tweedbrae.
· We would welcome the additional parking and taxi spaces, and locating these on the south side of the road would improve visibility for residents on the north side leaving their private drives. However, moving the parking to the south side causes visibility problems for traffic exiting from the busier public car park at the Park Hotel, while pedestrians on the residential side of the street will have traffic passing closer to the pavement without the protection of the parked cars.
We therefore consider that the problems that we list above outweigh the advantages gained by the proposals.
Gerard Bakker, Hon Sec Peebles Civic Society.
Copy; Peebles Councillors and Community Council.
Letter to Peeblesshire News sent on 22 June 2011.
I refer to the report which appeared in the 17 June of your paper, under the heading “Rail Option receives bridge support”. In that report you say that the favoured option of Peebles Civic Society was route 4, Cavalry Park Central. While that is essentially correct, it is taken out of context. In my letter published in your newspaper on 20 May I was at pains to point out that the Society was of the opinion that no firm decision regarding a second bridge should be made until a Peebles Master Plan showing how the town will accommodate future growth has been prepared and the public consulted on its conclusions.
The report which appears to be based on information provided by Scottish Borders Council, quotes a number of statistics which gives a misleading impression of the outcome. In the first instance the so called “public consultation”, was in fact a presentation summarising the Peebles Transport Study carried out by MVA Consultants and further information provided by the Council’s Planning Department, indicating possible future areas of development. The event which took place on 30/31 March was advertised as “Peebles Development Exhibition”, without any reference to “consultation”. In addition there was no formal notification inviting public comment. In practice those who attended the presentation were invited to complete a questionnaire which was entirely focussed on the issue of the second bridge and made no provision for comment on wider issues, not least of which is the sustainable expansion of the town.
A number of statistics were quoted in the report. Like all statistics, these need to be viewed objectively, otherwise they can be misleading. In this instance it would appear that there has been a “spinning” of the results. It is our understanding that some 175 responses were received and that with the exception of statuary bodies and others such as ourselves, the remainder, numbering 169 comprised completed questionnaires handed out at the exhibition. Those represent less than 3% of the voting population of Peebles, while the number indicating a preference for a second bridge, represents less than 2%. Furthermore to describe the responses in favour of Route 1 as “The popular” route is stretching credibility. There were 160 responses to the question which asked which of the six options would be best. 37 opted for Route 1, which represents less than 1% of the electorate.
It remains the view of the Civic Society that there should be a much fuller debate of the issues involved. This should not await the outcome of the Council’s consideration of the situation later in the summer, but there should be an opportunity for the public to be better informed of the issues involved and to discuss the consequences. The Society remains willing to host an appropriate forum.
May I again draw your readers attention to the response of the Society which can be found on our website at www.peeblescivicsociety.co.uk.
I am etc
Ronald Ireland, Chairman
Letter to the Peeblesshire News Editor on 20 May 2011.
Peebles Second Bridge Study
I refer to the report published in last week’s Peeblesshire News that the Peebles Community Council has given its backing to the proposal for a second bridge.
The Peebles Civic Society sees one of its primary functions as monitoring and influencing the whole question of future development of Peebles and is of the opinion that the question of a second bridge and its consequences lies at the heart of any debate about expansion and development of the town. The Society has submitted a detailed response to the Study carried out on behalf of Scottish Borders Council by MVA Consultants and while we support the Community Council’s call for further consultation, we do take issue with the conclusions reached by them.
At the present time proposals for future development suggest that this will take place south of the river. As the Tweed Bridge is undoubtedly approaching capacity, the scale of development proposed makes a second bridge inevitable. However, in the view of the Society the question of a second bridge should not be considered in isolation, but must be part of a much wider study. Peebles has now reached the stage where it is imperative that a fully detailed Master Plan for the whole town is produced to demonstrate how the town will be able to accommodate the increase in housing and associated traffic, health provision, schooling (both primary and secondary) and services infrastructure (water, drainage and power). Only after this has been done and accepted by the community should the decision be made as to whether or not Peebles can expand further and the increase in housing to the south be accommodated. No firm decision regarding a second bridge should be made until such a Master Plan has been prepared and the public consulted on its conclusions.
The full text of the Society’s response to the Transport Study can be found on the Society’s website at www.peeblescivicsociety.co.uk. In the meantime the Society would be prepared to host a public meeting to consider the MVA Transport Study and its implications for the future development of the town, with a view to giving the community a better understanding of the issues involved.
I am etc
Ronald Ireland, Chairman Peebles Civic Society
PEEBLES CIVIC SOCIETY
RESPONSE TO THE SCOTTISH BORDERS COUNCIL STAG1 REPORT PEEBLES SECOND BRIDGE STUDY
1.1 Our response is to the proposal to consider the construction of a second bridge over the River Tweed to serve the community south of the river. The study is described in the MVA report: Peebles STAG1. A full version of our response can be seen on the Society’s website at www.peeblescivicsociety.co.uk.
1.2 The current Local Plan identifies extensive land to the east of Cavalry Park and two smaller sites to the southwest of Whitehaugh for the forthcoming development period after 2018. These could add significantly to the size of the town and could have significant implications on the long term development and character of the town centre. We see the proposal to construct a second bridge as causing a major change to the town that needs to be considered now. Thus, before considering the six bridge sites listed in the MVA report the question of the desirability of the construction of a second bridge needs to be discussed.
2. Our principal conclusions are :
2.1 That it is imperative that a fully detailed Master Plan for the whole town to describe how the future of Peebles is to be realised is produced now before any firm decision is made on the second bridge.
2.2 If a second bridge is to be built with expansion to the south of the river, then it is imperative that the bridge and connecting roads are fully completed and operational before any construction work starts on the new housing estates. Other related infrastructure projects should be planned to be complete by the time of the completion of the housing and the opening of the new route.
3. The following are extracts from our fuller response
3.1 Peebles is a very attractive small town with a population of some 8200 people in 2008.
3.2 The current Local Plan 2011 shows that the future expansion of the town will be to the south of the river. Land at Whithaugh identified in the Plan could provide land for some 340 houses and is referred to in the Local Plan as being dependent on the construction of the second Tweed bridge. The area to the south of the B7062 Kingsmeadows Road, although scheduled as open space in the River Tweed flood plain, will undoubtedly come under pressure from developers for additional housing development by constructing flood mitigation measures as has been done for the Cavalry Park development. If successful this would release a considerable area of additional development land, with a probable potential of some further 200 houses.
3.3 A further 540 houses would be likely to give rise to an increase in the population from the 8200 figure in 2008 to 9500, an increase of some 16%. Our approximate assessment is that 60% of the people of Peebles live south of the river. This would amount to an increase of some 26%. Accordingly the volume of traffic using the present Tweed Bridge could increase in peak hour to a level well above the capacity of the bridge.
3.4 The STAG1 report refers to the main load on the bridge being caused by commuter traffic to Edinburgh. Surely thus it would be beneficial to investigate possibilities of any further housing being located to the north of the town centre.
3.5 Can Peebles accommodate this increase in population without destroying its character?
3.6 The main asset to the town is the character of the buildings along the High Street, Northgate, Eastgate and the main road through the Old Town. This is the main attraction to tourists and must not be destroyed by over development. The purpose of a conservation area is to preserve and enhance the character and this objective needs to be respected.
3.7 Whilst we obviously are concerned with and support the viability of the small shops in the town we see the main pressure from an increased population in Peebles and the surrounding area being on the two supermarkets needing expansion and additional parking.
3.8 As new housing referred to above is to be sited on the perimeter of the town, there will be increased traffic into and out of the town with a need for increased car parking for visiting the town centre for shopping. There is no land available close to the centre of town to accommodate additional parking.
3.9 Two main roads into town are narrow and congested with on street parking through the Old Town from the west and along the Edinburgh Road from the north. Only the entry from the east along the Innerleithen Road is straight, wide and free of on street parking. Peebles town centre is thus locked into a narrow and congested road system. As well as locally generated traffic it carries commuting traffic from the east going to and from Edinburgh, and the A72 east west through traffic crosses the town via the High Street and Old Town.
3.10 The current Local plan 2011 refers to the fact that the primary and Secondary schools are reaching full capacity. The Hay Lodge Health Centre is full, infrastructure such as water supply and drainage treatment are up to capacity and need expansion.
3.11 All these facts indicate that Peebles is reaching its practical limit.
3.12 Peebles has now reached the stage where it is imperative that a fully detailed Master Plan is produced for the whole town to demonstrate how it will be able to accommodate the increase in housing and associated traffic, health provision, schooling and services infrastructure. Only after this has been done and accepted by the community should the decision be made be made whether or not Peebles can expand further and the increase in housing to the south be accommodated.
4. The selection of the position of the second bridge.
4.1 As we are being given the opportunity to comment of the siting of the new bridge we do so bearing in mind our views expressed above on the desirability of further major development to the town. The STAG1 report suggests six possibilities and appraises these in terms of traffic convenience. We see the issue as being a balance between traffic convenience, impact on surrounding areas and practicability. We do not consider that any one route provides this.
4.2 Routes B1 and B2 are both within the Conservation Area and would have a severe and detrimental impact on the area through which they pass. B2 would pass through and destroy the Gytes playing fields.
4.3 B3 has sight line problems at both its north and south access points.
4.4 B5 and B6 have been abandoned by the STAG report and we concur with this and the reasons for rejection.
4.5 On a brief assessment, only B4 merits further consideration, but adjustments would be necessary to improve access from Innerleithen Road and the route through Cavalry Park.
Peebles Civic Society
19 May 2011
A new programme of Public Meetings will be published in October / November 2013.