Better quality housing and development, new villages and respect for the Borders’ unique landscape – these are the promises made by the Borders Party in its ‘manifesto for development’ launched this week.
The document offers a six point plan to improve planning and development in the region.
These include raising architectural standards, encouraging new villages, and making sure that development is related to local employment and fits with the character of its surroundings.
The Borders Party continues to oppose the Borders Railway and council membership of the Edinburgh City Region, saying that councillors from national parties were unable to act in the interests of the Borders because of their loyalty to party HQs in Edinburgh and London.
“We need to revolutionise the standard of development in the Borders,” said Nicholas Watson, Borders Party leader. “It’s not just a question of maintaining and improving Borderers’ quality of life. Our economic prosperity depends on attracting investment and tourism. If we want people to visit, live and work in the Borders we need to make sure the Borders stays a special place.”
“The irony is,” he continued, “that if the quality of development is high, then there is less public opposition to it, making it easier to provide affordable housing and faster decision-making for business development.”
“We must relate development to local jobs and local needs. Offices, shops and studios need to be mixed with housing, that’s the way to build our economy as well as providing homes.”
Sandy Aitchison, Borders Party councillor of Galashiels commented, “The Borders Party was founded to reinvigorate the tradition of independent local politics. When you look at how the council has surrendered strategic planning powers without consulting local people, and the mess over the Borders Railway, you can see that this is more important than ever.”
“People are fed up with our towns and villages being swamped by suburban schemes. That’s why we have developed policy for new villages, which can grow with their own facilities, employment opportunities and sense of place, and without damaging existing settlements.”
East Berwickshire candidate for the Borders Party, Cat Macdonald Home, added: “We need to look carefully at different parts of the Borders. With the A1 and a potential station at Reston East Berwickshire has good connections both north and south, but we badly need better connections to the central Borders. There is already a lot of land in Berwickshire allocated for housing; we must try to relate it to local employment.”