PEEBLES is full – that is the message being sent to planning bosses considering sites mooted for more than 1000 houses in the town.

Convenor of the community council’s planning sub-committee Les Turnbull, believes Peebles' infrastructure cannot cope with any further large scale developments and plans to fight proposals in the Main Issues Report, which is the forerunner for the next Local Development Plan.

At last week's community council meeting, he blasted the report for being full of “contradictions and very ill-considered proposals”.

Despite assurances from Scottish Borders councillors that there would be objection to the sites identified for development and the unlikelihood of them all being given approval, Peebles Community Council is not taking any chances.

Mr Turnbull said: “I’ve been working on developing a response from the community council and to be honest, it’s almost impossible to support any of the proposals for Peebles when you look at them individually and then collectively.

“By any rough assessment, if all these proposals were to come to fruition, we are talking about 1000 houses in the Peebles, Eshiels and Nether Horsburgh area.

“In terms of infrastructure alone there is no way that I can see that the town can sustain it. When you consider that 60 per cent of the working population works outwith the town. If you have an extra 1000 houses, that’s an extra 600 journeys on all the roads around the town.”

Mr Turnbull is also pressing the council’s education department on their “contradictory” information on provision in schools.

He added: “On some sites there are no issues with schools, and on other sites there are issues that schools may need extensions or need a new school. I have spoken to people in education and said I’d expect to see some sort of report which explains what the current capacities are in schools, what the future projections are, and how they’ve come to calculate them.”

The community council agreed the town’s infrastructure was at breaking point and shouldn’t be stretched further by future developments.

Mr Turnbull added: “It’s said that there’s no problem with health facilities. Well I think anyone who lives in the town would disagree with that when you try and get a doctor’s appointment. Then you look at cemetery provision, supermarkets, shops, where are people going to shop and park these cars? We’ve tried to develop Peebles as a tourist town, we need space for our visitors.

“I’m coming to the conclusion that there has to be some recognition by planners that Peebles is full up. The geography and the typography of the town doesn’t allow for anymore large scale development.”

Talk of constructing a new bridge over the River Tweed to allow more development to the south of the town is a “red herring” according to Mr Turnbull.

He explained: “There is a lot of talk about the Tweed Bridge, nothing can happen on the south of the river until there is a new Tweed crossing. I think the issue is far bigger than that. The issues of infrastructure work against any more major development. That’s not to say there won’t be little sites coming up with maybe 20 houses, however I don’t know where they would go. What I’m talking about is the wholesale large scale development that’s in the MIR.”

Two residents from Eshiels attended the meeting to ensure that Peebles Community Council included their community when lodging an objection.

Mr Turnbull said: “I know that people from Eshiels and Nether Horsburgh are concerned that the community council is just concentrating on the town and not considering the needs of these areas. I hope everything I’ve said has reassured you.”

An extraordinary meeting of the community council’s planning sub-committee is to be held to discuss its objections to the Main Issues Report before it is formally lodged with Scottish Borders Council.

Letter: Page 8