A NEWTOWN St Boswells engineering business is to stay put after planners knocked back an application to build four new homes.

Craigmount Properties was seeking planning permission in principle to demolish two industrial buildings in Yard Elders Drive, currently occupied by Oliver Engineering.

But members of Scottish Borders Council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee rejected the proposals due to a “lack of industrial premises” in the town.

The site, which is next to the Travis Perkins depot, has been used for steel fabrication since 2000, after planning permission was refused for housing in the 1990s due to inadequate access.

And four councillors objected again at Monday’s meeting – Helen Laing (SNP), Sandy Aitchison (Ind), Andy Anderson (SNP) and chairman Tom Miers (Cons).

Councillor Laing, from East Berwickshire, said: “In theory I would be in favour. 

“My only hesitation is the loss of industrial land. This problem has been raised in front of this committee before.”

However, Councillor Simon Mountford (Cons) told the meeting he supported the proposals.

“I think this is a sensible development. It isn’t an over development and it is bringing into use land which is overgrown and has a significant visual impact, so I am in favour of the plans.”

He was backed by fellow Tory Councillor Scott Hamilton who added: “I agree with Councillor Mountford on the visual impact, however my only concern would be over the entrance to the site from a B class road.

"It can be very difficult coming onto that road as it is a restricted viewpoint.”

Newtown St Boswells and Eildon Community Council submitted an objection in October last year, claiming the move would “result in the loss of an industrial site and thriving local business”.

Councillor Aitchison said: “I support Newtown St Boswells Community Council. Something troubles me about this [proposal]. The site has been used in an industrial capacity, for steel fabrication since 2000. 

“It’s clear that we are not short of housing in the Borders, but short of industrial land.

“Once a town loses its industry, it becomes a town where people sleep. I am very much against this.”

The application was rejected (4-4), with Councillor Miers, as chairman, having the casting vote.