PLANS to demolish the former West Linton Primary School and build ten retirement homes have been approved, 16 months after they were first proposed.

Edinburgh-based developers Eskgrove first submitted plans for the School Brae site in September 2016, after a new primary school was opened on Deanfoot Road.

However, officers from Scottish Borders Council’s planning department raised issues around the elevation of the proposed properties and the boundary of the development, which officers said would have had an ‘overbearing appearance’ and impact negatively on the privacy of immediate neighbours.

Furthermore, bats were found to be nesting in the area.

After months of negotiations between Eskgrove’s agents, Edinburgh-based Morgan McDonnell Architecture, revised plan were submitted which show a substantial drop in the overall height of the development, officers approved the plans with the condition that additional hedge planting be undertaken on the south side of the development.

Proposals to mitigate the impact on wildlife were also accepted by Scottish Borders Council’s ecology officers.

A design statement which accompanied the application reads: “The development proposal seeks to establish an attractive settled community carefully integrated into the grain of established residential development in the surrounding neighbourhood and providing a mix of spacious accessible, sustainable homes for the over 55’s which will comfortably accommodate their present needs and support them through their active retirement years and beyond as their circumstances change.

“All dwellings are single storey bungalows which do not exceed the prevailing heights of existing and historic buildings in the village and are grouped in a modified linear arrangement; widening adjacent School Brae to create a communal focus which defines the point of transition in and out of the cul de sac.

“As the site is on elevated ground relative to the lower village to the south, the modest heights of the dwellings allow them to settle more harmoniously into the tiered roofscape of the neighbourhood.

“The increased area of soft landscaping for gardens and of porous paving for driveways and carriageway will attenuate surface water run off to a far higher extent than the large extent of playground and hardstanding presently on site.

“The development accommodates private and visitor parking in accordance with the council’s policy.

“Traffic movements associated with residential use will be far fewer than those when the school was in use.

“The houses have been developed as exemplar sustainable homes and exceed current building standards for energy efficiency and noise insulation and therefore easily meet the council’s core objectives for sustainable development.”

In granting approval of the application Ranald Dods, Scottish Borders Council’s planning officer, said: “The proposed redevelopment of the site for retirement housing on the site is acceptable. The scale and density of the development is similar to that found in the surrounding area.

“The applicant has demonstrated that the privacy of adjoining residents can be safeguarded and that there will be no loss of amenity through overshadowing.

“The proposed retirement homes are located within the settlement, close to the centre of the town.

“As they are intended for occupation by those of retirement age, they should not impose a burden on school capacity. A legal agreement to ensure occupation initially by those of retirement age, will negate the need for developer contributions for education and play equipment provision

“Contributions will, nonetheless, be required for a subsequent sale to a non-qualifying purchaser. In addition, an affordable housing contribution will be required from the outset.

“The development does not raise issues with protected species or archaeology. Parking standards will be met.

“The development of the site for housing will not conflict with the surrounding uses and the landscaping of the site will add to the amenity of the area.”