CASH-strapped Scottish Borders Council has been accused of pushing through plans for housing developments to help solve its financial problems.

The claim – made by local campaigner Cliff Scupham – is strenuously refuted by the local authority.

Mr Scupham has issued a rallying cry for residents to put up a united front against such developments.

The Peeblesshire News recently reported concerns by locals over plans for 70 houses at South Park in Peebles.

And this week Mr Scupham highlighted similar cries of “no more” dating back to 2013 over an application to build 130 houses at Rosetta Caravan Park. He said the concerns raised over the South Park development regarding pressure on the town’s already-stretched infrastructure and road safety echo those made by opponents to the Rosetta development.

Despite this, the Rosetta plans were given the go-ahead on condition that a transport bridge from Rosetta Road through Dalatho to Edinburgh Road is built. He is calling on locals to stand together and put the brakes on local government unlocking countryside for further development.

Mr Scupham also claims these houses would be “financially out of reach” for most Peebles residents, driving young people out of the town.

In a letter to the Peeblesshire News, Mr Scupham said that, in April last year, Aberdeen Asset Management had entered into discussions with the council’s planning department to enforce a legal agreement to secure developer funding for the vehicular bridge, payments for school provision and to ensure affordable housing within the site.

He said: “I feel that the number of homes receiving planning permission in areas of Peebles has increased five-fold in five years.

“It would not surprise me if more development applications were being granted than in the past, due to the financial incentives for councils, and let’s face it, Scottish Borders Council are in financial difficulties due to Government funding cuts.”

He suggests that planning officers are under political pressure and, should they advise against new developments, they are being labelled as “anti-growth”.

“It is now time to act. I feel we are lone wolves struggling to survive in a bureaucratic minefield, all I want is the best for Peebles as a town.”

We asked SBC to comment on the suggestion that it was pushing through more housing developments to solve its financial difficulties by getting developers to pay for infrastructure improvements.

A spokesman told us: “Housing requirements are established by looking at future population and household changes and housing needs.

“These inform the production of the Local Development Plan (LDP) which sets out where new development should take place.

“The council has started work on a new LDP and will shortly publish a Main Issues Report which will identify the key issues to be addressed in the Borders in the coming years. The council will be consulting widely on this in the autumn.

“Annual housing completions in the Borders fell significantly following the financial crash in 2008 and have not increased significantly since that time.

“Developer contributions can only be sought to address pressures arising from the proposed development itself. Developer contributions are not, and cannot be sought to address pre-existing pressures or deficiencies.”

Meanwhile, there has been further backlash following a consultation for a proposed new development at Tweedbridge Court, which is currently undergoing demolition with plans for flats.

Locals took to social media with concerns regarding yet another development to the south of the town, saying the scale of the building and the design was not sympathetic to the surrounding architecture.