RESIDENTS in Peebles are being urged to consider the impact of future sites earmarked for development before they become part of “the tablet of stone” in the next Local Development Plan.

Appealing to members of the town’s community council to have a close look at the Main Issues Report (MIR), which is the forerunner for the Scottish Borders Council’s new Local Development Plan, community leader Les Turnbull warned: “We’ve got to try and get it right. We all know what happened in the last LDP, there was a major error made with March Street Mill and look where we are now.

"It was coloured in incorrectly, instead of being purple for employment use, it was shaded as white land, which means it can be used for anything else.”

Chairman Lawrie Hayworth echoed these concerns adding: “Can we please make sure that Holland & Sherry is purple.

"I have raised the fact that the major employment site of the March Street Mill was white land, and asked why it wasn’t zoned as employment and economic land. I was told that the LDP was put out for consultations and we didn’t come back and complain.

“As a bunch of amateurs, we’re not paid to be planning officers. It was thrown back at us and I was not happy.”

Mr Hayworth said the town is being faced with a Local Development Plan which takes “no apparent account of the infrastructure”.

He added: “It was thrown in the face of the elected members by officers, that they couldn’t contest some issues because it was approved in the LDP. It’s a tablet of stone, and really I feel it was rather rude the way that it was expressed to the elected members, that you dare not question. So this is a hugely important document.”

Community councillors also blasted the timescale for consultation and responses to be fed back to SBC as “totally inadequate”.

Mr Turnbull added: “The MIR came out at the end of November and we have to have our responses by January 31. I don’t see any evidence to show the people putting the MIR together are actually listening to what people are saying.

"It’s not that people are against development per say. It’s the lack of infrastructure that’s there to support it.

“At the consultation meeting it was said that the education department say there is not enough capacity in the schools. I was looking at some other documents in relation to specific sites and there are one-liners from education saying there’s no problem in putting 200 houses up here or there.

“Well that clearly flies in the face of common sense, because we know our schools are now pretty full, we know our doctors' surgeries are full. And yet we are told in the MIR that there is not a problem with the health facilities. It’s nonsense.”

Councillor Kris Chapman (Lib Dem, Tweeddale West) said that during a consultation meeting discussing the MIR, it was highlighted by a Peebles doctor that GP practices are not engaged properly within the planning process.

He added: “It was acknowledged by the service director for health and social care that improvements needed to be made to ensure that local provision was being included within local planning matters, to ensure that the appropriate health provision was being discussed in terms of impact analysis.”

Mr Hayworth stressed the need for the community to have more time to effectively comment on the MIR, given that the Local Development Plan will not be presented for approval for two years.

A number of sites in and around Peebles are identified for potential development, including South Parks, Chapelhill, Bonnington Road, two sites at Eshiels and one in Cardrona.