PLANNING bosses are backing a controversial bid to build 40 flats on the banks of the Tweed in Peebles.

Eildon Housing's proposals for the Tweedbridge Court site have come under fire from community groups and individuals in the town.

A total of 133 letters of objection were tabled against initial plans for two blocks of 20 apartments.

Following amendments to the design, which lowered the four-storey buildings, a further 22 letters against the revised application were received by Scottish Borders Council.

Peebles Community Council and many neighbouring residents, who are concerned about the scale and design of the buildings, were calling for the plans to be rejected by the local authority.

But ahead of Monday's meeting of the planning committee, officers at Newtown St Boswells are recommending the affordable housing application is approved.

Planning officer Scott Shearer believes the revised design is acceptable. He said: "While accommodation is still provided on four levels, because the upper floor accommodation is firmly within the roof, the tallest part of the building appears as a three-and-a-half storey instead of four storey.

"The revised roof form has helped to reduce the mass of the development as it has broken down the buildings to more traditionally proportioned blocks which are joined to one another, instead of being set under a large central roof expanse."

Many of the concerns regarding the flats were the visual impact they would have on the town.

Mr Shearer added: "The development will impact visually on the River Tweed walkway, however this will be most apparent on the northern side of the river.

"The full scale of the proposals will be visible, especially during the winter months however improvements which have been made to the design of the proposals reduce the scale of the development from this viewpoint.

"The site is allocated within the Local Development Plan as a redevelopment opportunity and the proposed land use and volume of accommodation proposed ensures that this site is being redeveloped in accordance with its allocation.

"This site is sensitive and the suitability of the scale of the development has been challenging. The revised design which has developed a more traditional form of development has reduced the visual scale and mass of the proposals.

"It is considered that, on balance, that the revised development enables this site to be redeveloped in a manner that meets local affordable housing demands in a manner which does not cause significant demonstrable harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding area, including the adjacent conservation area and listed buildings."

Demand for rentable homes in Peebles has seen the Eildon Housing receive an average of 32 bids per property over the past three years.

Eildon’s Chief Executive Nile Istephan anticipates a similar level of demand should planning permission be granted for the 40 new homes at Tweedbridge Court.

Scottish Borders Council's planning committee meets on Monday morning.