Controversial plans for village approved

Wellfield Court (with Swinton Primary School at the far left) where the fields behind are a proposed site for housing development in Swinton
Wellfield Court (with Swinton Primary School at the far left) where the fields behind are a proposed site for housing development in Swinton

Scottish Borders Council has approved plans set to see the village of Swinton increase in size by nearly half again.

Councillors received 15 letters of complaint about the proposals to build 25 houses, with concerns ranging from future flooding risks to obstruction of the village’s picturesque views.

However, the decision was made to give the application the go-ahead, subject to various conditions.

The council will require concerns over flooding, drainage and road safety to be allayed before building begins on the 1.9-hectare site to the south and west of Swinton Primary School.

The application, made by the Ladykirk Estate, sought permission for 25 houses, including affordable housing, plus the provision of playing fields and the building of a new village hall.

The village’s current hall is undergoing conversion into a residential building.

Concerns raised during the advertisement period included fears of inadequate levels of parking, potential noise nuisance and loss of views.

The infrastructure of the village was also mentioned, among the principal grounds of objection being the lack of facilities for an increased population.

A report to the council’s planning and building standards committtee on Monday also noted planning officers’ desire for access between the development and Swinton’s Main Street.

However, letters in support of the project suggested that the development would rejuvenate the village, help secure the future of the primary school and allow community spirit to flourish.

Chief planning officer Ian Aikman raised similar concerns, reporting: “I recommend the application is approved subject to a legal agreement addressing affordable housing and contributions towards education and lifelong learning.”

Current legislation requires the provision of a proportion of land for affordable housing on allocated and windfall sites. This is presently set at 25% within the Berwickshire housing market area.

It has taken over three years for the application to reach this stage.

A pre-application consultation was held between the council and the applicant’s agent in December 2011, and a meeting with representatives of Swinton and Ladykirk Community Council followed in May 2012.

Community council chairman Bill Purvis said this week: “We looked at this back in 2012, and we had a public meeting at that stage.

“The village was very much split. The community council took a straw poll at that meeting and there was a slight majority in favour of the development. We took from this that the council could neither support nor oppose the development.”