A couple have won a dispute with council planners over red tape preventing them from rebuilding a derelict cottage near Kelso.
Roddy and Rachel Jackson, of Mellendean, near Kelso, were previously granted planning permission to do up and extend a dilapidated farmhouse known as Folly Cottage.
The Jacksons soon learned that renovating the property, said to be in a ruinous state, would be too expensive, so instead they submitted plan to demolish the cottage and replace it with a home of similar design.
However, council officers took umbrage with that, arguing that because the cottage, at Woodside Farm, was not being reinstated and was instead being knocked down and replaced, it would count as a new development in the countryside, giving them grounds to reject the pair’s second application.
Although Scottish Borders Council’s planning policy allows for uninhabitable homes to be brought back into use, it only allows for the demolition and rebuilding of dwellings, and planners contended that because the cottage is in ruins it does not count as a dwelling house.
The Jacksons appealed to the council’s local review body against that rejection, saying that because the property previously had planning permission to be brought back into use, it should be considered as a dwelling house.
At its latest meeting, held on Monday, December 16, the appeal body upheld that argument and overruled the authority’s planners’ rejection of the couple’s proposals.
An appeal statement was submitted to the committee on behalf of the Jacksons by Galashiels-based consultant Ferguson Planning.
It read: “The principle of residential development on the site has already been accepted on the approval of previous applications.
“Further to this, the design and layout of the proposal have also already been approved in the latest application.
“This application will provide a replacement for the dilapidated Folly Cottage by a residential dwelling matching the design, layout and character of the original property.”
Councillors largely agreed that the application differed only slightly from the Jacksons’ previous successful application.
East Berwickshire councillor Helen Laing said: “This seems like a difference in legal definitions and terminology.
“It’s obviously been a house in the past, but is it a house now? It’s clearly not habitable now, but in the past it was, and the appellants are saying that because it has had planning permission previously, it was considered a dwelling.
“As a layperson, it feels like we’re splitting hairs.
“The design is very, very similar to the design which has been approved previously, so it seems to me that the actual finished product will be exactly like what was previously agreed.
“It seems to me to be a little bit crazy.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage said: “Looking at the building, what are we left with? It is dilapidated, and although we’re left with little now, it was obviously a home.
“If this is going ahead, then I like the idea of this being an energy-efficient new build.
“The design of the house needs to incorporate some of the history of the old building and should use some of the old stone.”
The committee voted unanimously to overturn the council’s planning department’s decision and granted planning permission to the Jacksons.