A PEEBLES man has lost his battle with council planners over an ordered clean up of a field at Blyth Bridge.

Andrew Brown was told in March he must clear sheds, a number of tyres, corrugated sheets, tarpaulin, doors, pallets, fencing wire, wooden logs, branches, a caravan chassis, wheelie bins, wheelbarrows, telegraphic poles, ladders, scaffolding poles, a barbeque, as well as other plastic containers and metal pieces from the land.

However, in April Mr Brown appealed to the Scottish Government’s planning and environmental appeals department (DPEA), asking to leave some of the items on the land and asking for more time: “Not all items listed need to be removed, for example: fence posts and wire, wheelbarrows, corrugated sheets, pallets, and a van (which is a caravanette) which is used for storage of tools and shelter while working on the land.

“Due to a health condition I require more time to tidy up the site.

“It was also agreed  by enforcement officers that the tyres could be stored out of sight for future use.”

Scottish Borders Council’s own statement to the DPEA says the council has spent three years trying to get Mr Brown to clear the land: “The council has sought to work with the appellant over a three year period to improve the appearance of the land, thus reducing the impact the appellant’s activities are having on the amenity of this rural location. 

“During this prolonged period the council have taken into account Mr Brown’s health and financial situation. 

“As a direct result of the length of time this matter had been ongoing, the appellant was offered the opportunity to meet on site with the council’s enforcement officer to seek to find an acceptable resolution to the matter. 

“The appellant met with the enforcement officer on site on 30 March 2018 and the meeting was followed up with a letter setting out what had been agreed during the course of the site meeting including a date by which the agreed works where to be completed.

“A subsequent site visit was undertaken on July 11 2018 to establish if sufficient remediation had been undertaken. 

“It was noted at that visit that apart from relocating a few vehicular tyres none of the other agreed works had been undertaken. 

“An enforcement notice was served thereafter to regularise the situation and revert the site back to agricultural land.”

Now, the DPEA’s appointed reporter, Christopher Warren, who acts on behalf of Scottish Ministers, has dismissed the appeal and reiterated the council’s demand to clean up the site: “During my unaccompanied site inspection, I found the combined effect of the various items stored and/or deposited on the site to result in an unkempt and rather unsatisfactory appearance. 

“This is despite some of the items on the land being partially obscured by long grass and other vegetation, which lessens the overall impact to some extent. 

“Whilst views into the site are highly localised, the land is clearly visible from the A72 road, which runs immediately adjacent to the appeal site. 

“The land is positioned on the outside of a bend in the main road, which increases its prominence. 

“The appearance of the site contrasts starkly with that of surrounding land, and I agree with the council that the overall result of the items being kept on the site is an effect which is detrimental to local visual amenity.”

Despite siding with the council over the enforcement notice, Mr Warren has agreed to extend the enforcement period from 28 days to eight weeks, in order to “maximises the likelihood of compliance with the notice.”