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Borders Council turn down housing application - on design grounds

November 16 2011

Borders Council turn down housing application - on design grounds
Borders Council have rejected an application by Springfield Properties to erect 82 homes on farmland in West Linton – because they don’t like the design.

Noting high aspirations for the site a committee observed that the development offered nothing more than a “standard suburban layout with limited character and little charm.”

It marks a rare instance of design factors being given critical consideration and is being seen as a possible test case.

A spokesperson for Springfield said their plans incorporated a series of “courtyards and small clusters of dwellings, linking with shared surfaces using street furniture and both soft and hard landscaping delineate the areas of pedestrian, cycle and vehicle access.”

However planners raised concerns over a refusal on the part of Springfield to explain what their intent was in relation to retention of existing steading buildings. They also spoke out against a planned ‘entrance square’ which was deemed by roads planning officers to amount to little more than a roundabout.

Further discord was raised at committee when it was noticed that elements of the proposed layout “appear to incorporate a direct replication of elements included in a proposed layout from a recent planning application by Persimmon Homes for housing at Easter Langlee, Galashiels.”

A source told Urban Realm: “This should send a strong message to the volume builders that off-the- shelf approaches to layout and building design dilute local identity and sense of place. The policy framework has been there for some time - it's good to see a Council finally having the guts to use it.”

The applicant has yet to decide whether to abandon the £20m scheme – or come back with an alternate design.
Planners gave Springfield's design short shrift
Planners gave Springfield's design short shrift
Typical house designs
Typical house designs


#1 Posted by block9architect on 16 Nov 2011 at 12:19 PM
Wow. A local authority that cares about design!
#2 Posted by kat on 16 Nov 2011 at 13:39 PM
I agree with the council. For once the design of a housing estate could be more creative!
D to the R
#3 Posted by D to the R on 16 Nov 2011 at 13:49 PM
I can only see two 'courtyards' which look more like shared driveways?! Looks someones gotten hold of Malcolm Fraser's phrase book again....
#4 Posted by Fritz on 17 Nov 2011 at 13:44 PM
Refusal of an application on designs grounds is a complete nonsense and I hope Springfield take the council to the cleaners. This design is not anything like generic and bears absolutely no resmblance to standardised streets, driveways and parking courts of years gone by - all of which, rather ironically, were because of the numbskull jobsworths within the roads departments requiring everything to be standardised from whichever roads design guides they happen to have been looking at, at the time. this layout has a very clear street hierarchy and adheres to he guidelines laid out in Designing Streets, which for those people who work inthe council and don't know it, is actually POLICY! If the council want so-called "volume housebuilder" to start desinging everything off the peg then fine, but be prepared to pay for it. You think you have a housing crisis now, just wait until the 2013 building regulations come in and build costs go up another £5k on top of the 2010 regs. I can bet all those cheering about this refusal and telling the world how the big, bad developers are ruining our green and pleasant are sitting nice and comfy in their own houses! two-faced shower of numpties. Mon the Springfield!!!
#5 Posted by KM on 17 Nov 2011 at 20:33 PM
Images are a bit poor for me to see on my iPhone so can't comment to much on design but Fritz has a point regarding roads design generally. In some authorities when eg you go over 2 houses you need a full RCC even in rural settings. The policy forces designers to design in absolutely horrible road layouts etc to comply with policy. Why on earth should the same designs be used in both rural and sub-urban settings! Some more design flair needs to be embraced by roads departments....
The Architect, my hero.
#6 Posted by The Architect, my hero. on 17 Nov 2011 at 22:58 PM
Scottish Borders Placemaking & Design Guidance is the usual white render boxes, blue brick base, vertical emphasis windows, course, timber panel banality mixed with a dash of 'longhouse' and the odd fake 'contemporary chimney' laziness - who is producing this tick box nonsense? - dear oh dear.

I suspect 'high aspirations' means poundbury.
Auntie Nairn
#7 Posted by Auntie Nairn on 21 Nov 2011 at 14:24 PM
My understanding of 'courtyard' must be different from Springfield Properties - I don't see any linked buildings enclosing a central space. Mind you, semi-detached houses are social death these days.

Having said that, the standard house types are a damn-sight better than some - looking at you Gladedale.
Walt Disney
#8 Posted by Walt Disney on 21 Nov 2011 at 14:35 PM
Fritz. I think we'll probably see Springfield taking the council to appeal, winning and the council having to pay costs - just s they had to pay costs at cardrona with the Eskgrove application. The council and the elected members seem to think that its fine to chop and change silly, subjective policy and have a pick and mix approach to design 'guidance'. Their roads engineers are stuck somewhere in the 1980s (I bet the majority of them still refer to the Strathclyde region roads guide for assessing development layouts) and they are the main barrier to creative street / development design. Try getting a roads engineer to sign up for "home zones" or perish the thought "Designing Streets". Even if you do that you'll still have to get past the roads adoptions Nazi who'll revert back to the aforementioned SRC raods guide and want black top and 5.5m general access roads everywhere!
It would be really funny if only we weren't talking about people's jobs and livlliehoods.
#9 Posted by pop on 10 Apr 2012 at 09:18 AM
For info, the appeal has been dismissed and no award of expenses has been made to Springfield, as documented on DPEA website.
lets dance
#10 Posted by lets dance on 14 Jul 2012 at 14:59 PM
i hope springfield get bulding there houses are out standing and roomy there lay out is taking in that this is the country side well spaced out not like everybody watching each other . i feel very angry most people are new to west linton who are against the bulding is it not a bit cheeky living on houses on robinsland and trying to stop people having what they enjoy like the smiddy etc, I hope spring field who i think will be good for west linton get planning soon there is a long list off people needing the houses so i have been told it will also bring job s to local s much needed .

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