PLANS to build 56 eco cabins and 16.5 kilometres of new trails at Glentress have been approved by planners.

The proposals were part of an £11.3 million investment by Forest Enterprise Scotland and Forest Holidays to boost tourism in the area.

Forest Holidays will now take forward the eco-cabin development, which will be built around the existing mountain biking skills and freeride areas at Buzzard’s nest.

And parking will also be increased at the site by demolishing two buildings in the overspill car park; while a new entrance barrier system will be added.

The holiday cabins will be one to four bedroomed units – three of them will include tree house bedrooms.

Two separate applications were put to Scottish Borders Council's planning and building standards committee today [Monday].

And both were approved, despite strong objections from local hill farmer Dorothy Thomson.

SBC planning officer Craig Miller explained: “The applications are presented to committee together as there are phasing and timing links to ensure recreational facilities and parking remain and are improved at the site.

“Both applications are aimed at maintaining and enhancing the reputation of the visitor attraction at Glentress, diversifying the attraction, delivering the vision of the Glentress Masterplan and benefitting the local economy and further investment at the complex through facilitating holiday cabin development.”

Although the project was supported across the board by consultees, initial concerns were raised by environmental watchdog SEPA, which said that the proposed new entrance barrier system to the site encroached on the Eshiels Burn – potentially causing flooding problems.

And the organisation was also worried about the lack of clarity on drainage.

However, the objections were pulled once the plans were revised.
Now they have been given the green light.

Mr Miller added: “The proposals are considered to be the first but significant stages in the development and enhancement of Glentress Forest.

“The proposals are likely to create significant economic benefit to the area and allow for further investment in the existing visitor attraction, reflecting the vision contained within the Glentress Masterplan.”