Controversial caravan plans rejected

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Plans for a controversial caravan park in Berwickshire have been thrown out by Scottish Borders Council.

James Tait, the owner of Orchard Country Park at Lucker, north Northumberland, wanted to build a 52-caravan holiday park in the grounds of Willowdean House, near Foulden.

However, the proposals were met by 80 objections, including from Foulden, Mordington and Lamberton Community Council, with most objectors mentioning the visual impact of a holiday park on the small village as their main concern.

The plans were first considered by councillors in August, but following a lengthy discussion the council’s planning and building standards committee found that they couldn’t make a decision without first visiting the site, and so the decision was postponed until September.

At the following meeting, held on Monday September 2, councillors heard that planning officers recommended approving the application, despite the concerns of residents.

In a report to councillors, Ian Aikman, the council’s chief planning officer, wrote: “The application site is an attractive location which has the potential to accommodate a suitable form of tourism development.

“The development is likely to create an economic benefit for the area which could prompt further regeneration and inward investment into the local economy which is encouraged by local development plan policy for new caravan and camping developments.

“It is acknowledged that the scale of the development is significant on this rural edge of Foulden and its resulting impacts have been carefully considered.”

Ahead of the committee meeting, residents from Foulden also wrote to councillors in the form of an open letter.

It read: “The residents of Foulden and the local community council have vigorously objected to this proposal.

“Their decision was made on the grounds of the inappropriate scale and appearance in terms of design, materials and siting; of its impact on the natural and built environment and its negative effect on residential amenity of the whole area.

“The effects on traffic and road safety and the local infrastructure have been underestimated.

“Local opposition to this proposal is unanimous, with over 80 letters of objection with very relevant and well-argued content, and with a survey of all Foulden residents showing 98% opposition to the development.

“However, the planning department has dismissed and completely ignored these well-informed and detailed local objections in their recommendation for approval.”

Speaking to his fellow councillors on the planning and building standards committee, East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton said: “There are differences between caravans and lodges, and these are lodges, which to my mind are effectively second homes.

“There is quite a small village and in terms of the impact of 50 homes on a village of less than 50 residents, that will have quite an impact.

“I understand the viewpoint of officers but we have to respect the views of everyone and when I see the impact of 50 homes on the village of Foulden, I’m coming to the opinion that this represents over development.”

Fellow East Berwickshire councillor Helen Laing also voiced her concerns over the proposals: “The site visit was very useful, it’s a delightful area, and who would not want a holiday home there?

“The road issue is one that still worries me and I think that is the main problem. I also think that 52 units would be far too much for that site.”

Councillors also heard from officers that although there would be a restriction on the use of the caravans, limited to 93 continuous days of occupancy, there is no formally defined gap between those 93 days periods, meaning the caravans could effectively be lived in for most days of the year.

Ultimately, councillors voted by five votes to two to reject the application.