AN Innerleithen man has won his battle to prove to council planners that his land is not open green space.

As previously reported, plans by Raymond Keddie, of Damside, Innerleithen, to build a house on the corner of Maxwell Street and Damside were initially refused by Scottish Borders Council after neighbours complained that the empty plot was used as a local green space amenity.

The plans for the currently empty site were met with six objections from local residents, who cited the loss of an historic green space and overdevelopment as chief amongst their concerns.

Council officers initially rejected the proposals as they felt the loss of greenspace would have a “detrimental impact on the townscape”, and that the greenspace had been used by the community for dog walking and other recreational activities.

Mr Keddie subsequently appealed to the council’s local review body, and submitted evidence showing that the land once housed outbuildings.

Councillors originally heard the review on Monday, March 18, but asked for further information from officers about the historical and current function of the land to be brought to the next local review body.  

This was held on Monday last week when council officers appeared to have softened their opposition to Mr Keddie’s plans.

SBC’s planning officer Carlos Clarke reported: “The site has no obvious economic value as greenspace. Also, because it is fenced and private, it has no direct social value in terms of recreational use, albeit it provides an open outlook for the cottages to its west which does constitute a social value.

“As regards environmental value, the key attribute it has is that it provides an open break between buildings along Damside, and an open vista towards the aforementioned cottages both of which make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area partly because of the open space in front of them.

“The townscape contribution of the site has been undermined to some extent by the erection of the fencing around it.

“Nonetheless, it remains a positive feature of the Conservation Area because it continues to provide some visual relief within the townscape.”

Councillors were in broad agreement that the space was not a local amenity and the site represented an infill development.

Councillor Andy Anderson (SNP, Galashiels and District) said: “I’m not sure that is a green space. For the last 15 years it has been overgrown and prone to fly tipping until the owners took it upon themselves to fence it up.

“I think there are quite a few places like this in Tweeddale and it would be nice to keep them but I’m not sure how much of a benefit they are to the community.

“What we are looking at is the amenity of the green area and I’m not sure that what we’ve seen proves that the green area is an amenity.”

Councillor Helen Laing (SNP, East Berwickshire) said: “We haven’t seen any evidence to show it is used as a green space amenity.

“I see it much more as an infill site more than a recreational space. I’m happy for this to go ahead.”

Councillors agreed unanimously to grant planning permission for a site on the land, provided that Mr Keddie makes the currently overgrown right of way to the side of the property more accessible by carrying out maintenance work.