ONE of the country's largest housebuilding firms has finally issued an apology to Peebles homeowners.

For over two years seven families living on the Kingsmeadows development have been battling with the builders over defects caused by crumbling mortar.

Earlier this year Taylor Wimpey acknowledged, as part of its full year results statement, concerns regarding mortar durability and added that a "robust technical solution" to fix the problem had been identified.

Work has already started on the affected 130 properties and this week, the company offered an apology.

A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson told the Peeblesshire News: “We sincerely apologise to the affected homeowners for the issues that they have experienced within some homes at our Kingsmeadow development in Peebles.

"While a significant number of houses on the development are unaffected by mortar issues, a robust technical solution to fix the durability of the mortar has been identified, which is supported by our appointed structural engineer, an independent review by the Scottish Borders Council, and the National House Building Council.

"We have a clear plan in place to remediate affected homes and works have already begun on the development.”

Problems first emerged with houses on the Kingsmeadows development in 2013.

Scottish Borders Council's building standards officers were contacted as well as Taylor Wimpey.

The developer bought back 'several' properties from householders after faults were identified.

Non-disclosure agreements prevented the families from discussing the issues.

In 2017 more concerns were raised with the local authority over public safety on the development.

And Tracey Logan, chief executive of Scottish Borders Council, called a meeting with Taylor Wimpey bosses where it was agreed for an independent structural engineer to carry out surveys.

Although no structural issues were identified during the surveys of 'randomly selected properties' the developer acknowledged there were problems with mortar on some houses.

And towards the end of last year they sent out letters offering to carry out remedial action.

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council told us: "The first public safety concerns were raised with the council in late 2017.

"In response to these concerns, the Chief Executive requested a meeting with Taylor Wimpey to investigate the concerns.

"At this meeting, it was agreed that an independent structural engineer would be commissioned to carry out structural surveys in a number of randomly selected properties.

"This was carried out in summer 2018.

"The council did not have an official role in this process, but it was considered important to provide an independent opinion on the situation to ensure that any concerns were identified and addressed effectively and consider whether there was any public safety risk.

"The report identified no structural issues with the inspected houses and was satisfied with Taylor Wimpey’s proposed remedial action to repair potential defects, if required, and if the owners wished to take up this offer, which we understand a number of residents have."

A BBC investigations team identified that the Peebles housing development was one of 13 across the country where inferior mortar had been used.

Sheila Chalmers and her husband recruited their own structural engineers to carry out assessments on their Peebles home - and both contradicted a Taylor Wimpey survey identifying extensive repairs were required.

And, along with six other families from the Kingsmeadows development, Mr and Mrs Chalmers continued to campaign for the developer to admit responsibility and fix the structural problems.

Mrs Chalmers told the BBC: "These developers, these companies, cannot be allowed to continue the destruction of people's lives with building shoddy homes.

"Somebody has to stand up and show them that they cannot get away with it."