In the face of staunch local opposition, the controversial scheme to build 71 luxury homes on the scenic fringes of Braidwood was given council approval on Tuesday.
As reported previously in the Gazette, the plan to redevelop the disused former Headspoint Nursery site led to allegations that the Green Belt and famous local scenery would be ruined by a new estate of that size.
Many existing residents also lodged objections on the grounds that the village infrastructure simply couldn’t cope with such a large and sudden influx of new people and traffic.
Three local SLC councillors backed at least some of the points being made by objectors.
The fact that the applicants, Serene Life Ltd, made three separate planning permission applications - for 23, 26 and 22 houses respectively - instead of making a single application for all 71 houses led to allegations that this was a ‘ploy’ to avoid a planning inquiry that would be required for developments of over 50 new properties.
Despite all this, at Tuesday morning’s meeting of South Lanarkshire Council’s planning committee, councillors approved the whole scheme after hearing a detailed report from their planning officers, rejecting most of the objectors’ arguments.
The planners denied that any of the land was Green Belt, most of it being classed as having been previously developed, ie as a commercial nursery.
They said that the separate applications were allowable under planning law and pointed to Scottish Government guidelines encouraging new housebuilding whenever and wherever possible.
The scale of the development was justified on the grounds of viability.
The report also makes mention of an agreement between the developers and the council that Serene Life Ltd. would make an unspecified financial contribution to “educational accommodation in the local area.”
The exact sum involved is still under negotiation.
It is the second large housing estate to be approved for Braidwood in recent weeks.
Last month councillors granted planning permission for 140 new houses in Upper Braidwood.
Those plans were drawn up by a group of landowners, the Upper Braidwood Development Consortiun, with the development covering eight separate parcels of land spread over eight hectares. The houses are detached and semi-detached, and range from three bedroomed to six bedroomed.
That site was described as a mixture of existing and redundant nurseries, vacant land, agricultural fields and a restaurant, within the settlement boundary of Upper Braidwood. Part of the site is said to be derelict and an eyesore, and background policy documents had already identified it as housing land.
The map with the document shows the site sitting on Lanark Road, just above the Bushelhead Road junction, and the plans include a new junction controlled by signals on to the A73.