A campaign has been launched to protect Abbotsford, the country house created by the 19th-century novelist, has been launched amid claims it damage the “unique cultural and historical value” of the attraction, near Melrose.
The Abbotsford Trust, which led a £12 million restoration of the property unveiled by the Queen in 2013, has suggested visitors will “gaze across the rippling waters of the Tweed to a new housing estate” if the 45 homes get the go-ahead.
The trust, formed in 2007 following the death of the last direct descendant of Sir Walter Scott to live in the house, has warned that a proposed development blueprint will have a “devastating impact” on the landscape and is urging its supporters to object to “stand up for Abbotsford.”
There are fears the development will mar celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of the Edinburgh-born novelist, poet and playwright, whose best-known works include Rob Roy, Ivanhoe and Waverley. His home attracts around 70,000 visitors from around the world each year.
However council chiefs insist the views will be protected by a combination of a mature woodland and new trees which are promised to be planted.
Born in Edinburgh in 1771, Scott was descended from some of the oldest families in the Borders. He spent years building Abbotsford after acquiring a farm on the banks of the Tweed and by the time of his death had amassed 9000 books and more than 4000 artefacts linked to historic figures like Roy Roy, Napoleon and Mary Queen of Scots.
In the appeal on its website, Giles Ingram, chief executive of the Abbotsford Trust, said: “Imagine gazing across the rippling waters of the Tweed to a new housing estate.
"That is what is being proposed and unless you object 45 houses will be built opposite Abbotsford.
"If you are as upset at this possibility as the many people who have contacted us, please object stating how you value the views from Abbotsford year round, and the impact you feel it may have on your enjoyment, on our tourism economy, and on the unique cultural and historical value of Abbotsford.
“If, like us, you feel that planting a thin screen of trees which will take years to mature and would not adequately hide the development please say so – this is a critical part of the proposal.
"Only if large numbers of objections are made will this proposal be overturned – we are depending on you.
“As the eyes of the world fall on Abbotsford for Walter Scott’s 250th anniversary, let’s not let our visitors be greeted by the sounds of diggers across the Tweed.”
Scottish Borders Council said the current proposal for housing at Netherbarns was “materially different” to previous schemes that had been brought forward.
A statement issued by the local authority added: “The most notable difference is that this submission does not include housing in the section of the field closest to Abbotsford.
"The proposed housing would instead be in the topmost section of the site, set behind mature woodland, with additional planting also proposed to provide further screening.”