Pender’s long wait to go to the press

IN last week’s paper, Norman Pender blasted the planning authorities at St Boswells for refusing his application “last summer” to build a bungalow next to is current house in Cavers. All 23 documents to do with the application are on the council’s planning website (ref: 10/00843/PPP), and show that he applied for permission on June 14, 2010, was refused it by a planning officer on August 11, 2010, after she made as site visit, and lost his appeal to a review body of five councillors, who has also made a site visit, on November 25, 2010. None of these dates are “last summer” which was 2011, and one wonders why he waited so long to go to the press!

I think the answer is that there is an election next week! He wants us to consider “who is best equipped to go to St Boswells and take the officers in hand and force them to change policy” on planning. Mr Pender was a councillor till the electors of Burnfoot dispensed with his services in 2003 and knows officers don’t have to be forced to do things: they carry out decisions agreed by a majority of councillors.

He seems to want to replace the present planning policies on housing in the countryside, all agreed to and amended from time to time by local councillors, with a system whereby all an applidant has to do is offer a few thousand pounds to the local school and agree to use a local builder.

Mr Pender says his application was rejected because it was “backland development – the erection of a house or houses on parts of large gardens attached to existing houses”. That’s not what Policy H2, protection of residential amenity, actually states: it only refers to garden ground or “backland” development, nothing about large gardens.

There were other reasons for the review body’s decision, as the wording on the decisions notice shows:

“The proposal is contrary to Policies D2 and H2 of the Scottish Borders Local Plan Adopted 2008; Policies D2 and H2 of the Scottish Borders Local Plan Amendment Finalised Plan 2009, and the Supplementary Planning Guidance – New Housing in the Borders Countryside December 2008 in that site would represent an inappropriate addition to the existing building group at Kinninghall, consisting of an overdevelopment of the site and backland development that does not respect the spacing of the existing building group to the detriment of the visual amenities of the area and the amenity and privacy of the adjoining dwellinghouse.”

Mr Pender also accuses Councillor Ron Smith of leading the opposition to his application to the review body. At any meeting, someone speaks first. Councillor Smith did.

Mr Pender made a complaint about him under the Councillors’ Code of Conduct on the grounds that he was a friend of one of the objectors, a man he had never met or spoken to until the day of the hearing.

The council’s legal head, Ian Wilkie, found no case to answer and dismissed the complaint.

JOCK HOUSTON