‘Victory’ for allotment holders as council U-turns on housing plans

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A GROUP of allotment holders in Stirches were celebrating victory over Scottish Borders Council this week after it was unanimously agreed that plans for 100 new houses would spare their land.

Last year, the green-fingered residents mounted a campaign against a draft plan for Galalaw which proposed two new housing sites in the northern area next to Guthrie Drive – along with the relocation of around 12 allotments currently leased to residents.

But at a meeting of the planning and building standards committee on Monday, it was heard that the pensioners’ objections had forced the council into a U-turn.

Chairman Jock Houston, who along with the rest of the six Hawick councillors had opposed the removal of the allotments, said: “The council listened and the final planning brief approved unanimously by the committee states that any development at Guthrie Drive must ensure that the allotments are retained in their current use and are protected from development.”

He added: “Last year Councillor Stuart Marshall and myself were most impessed by all the hard work which has gone on to turn rough grazing land into productive fruit and vegetable gardens.”

One such thrilled resident was Betty Currie, who along with husband Jim started cultivating their patch almost 30 years ago. She said: “It’s brilliant that our allotments are safe, such a relief. Many of us have been keeping an allotment since they started 27 years ago and it’s a pastime that we put a lot of effort into. I’m delighted the council actually listened.”

Councilllor Stuart Marshall commented: “This is a great victory for the allotment holders who pressed their case hard. I personally am delighted that planning officials have not only listened, but also recognised the importance of retaining this ground for the purpose it has served for many years. It’s fantastic that after much consultation, including a public meeting, that at long last we have a successful outcome.”