PLANS for a major commercial storage container plant on a former gas works site in Peeblesshire have been refused amid flood risk and safety fears.

Planning permission had been sought from Scottish Borders Council (SBC) for a 30 storage container facility on land west of Pirn Haugh in Princes Street, Innerleithen.

The vacant application site comprises an existing hard surface which benefits from a security fence topped with barbed wire.

A supporting statement from Galashiels-based Ferguson Planning, on behalf of the applicant, said the “proposal supports local businesses and meets a pre-existing need locally”.

The development was aimed particularly at supporting businesses in Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Peebles, with the objective of enabling them to continue trading successfully by having access to a “conveniently located and competitively priced storage capacity”.

But the application generated some objection comments from local residents, one saying: “This facility would result in an increase in large/heavy vehicles at hours of the day that coincide with children making their way to school.

“The access road (Princes Street) is on a designated school walking route, which increases the risk to children and their carers on their way to St. Ronan’s PS.”

In his report refusing the application, SBC lead planning officer Carlos Clarke accepted that the siting of storage containers was “fundamentally a commercial risk taken both by the owner and the users of the containers”, adding: “Provided the containers are affixed to the ground, and the commercial risk is understood, then its vulnerability is not considered determinative.”

But he added: “However, siting the containers would lead to loss of floodplain capacity and, therefore, potentially increase flood risk to other properties.

“The applicant was advised to reduce the extent of development so it is limited to the northern half of the site, but they advised that would result in only six to seven containers, making the use unviable economically.

“The viability of the development, however, is not a sufficient consideration when weighed against the potential harm this development could cause to public safety and other properties, which include residential properties, as a result of increased flood risk.

“In the absence of a flood risk assessment that discounts such concerns, it is considered this proposal would conflict with policies and this conflict is overriding.”

A supporting statement on behalf of the applicant said: “Delivery of the proposal would support jobs and assist existing businesses to invest in the local area.

“The site has clearly been developed previously. It is believed that the site was previously in use as a waste water treatment works.

“The market targeted by the proposal is small businesses with a requirement for small scale storage on a secure site.

“The proposal represents an increase in the economic infrastructure of Innerleithen. While the impact on social infrastructure is less clear, it is considered that the most likely effect will be one of improvement as it will help to support the number of small businesses in the town and contribute to local socio-economic resilience.”