PLANNING bosses have been forced to apologise after jumping the gun with a controversial application.

Moorbrook Textiles' bid to build 69 houses on a former mill site in Peebles has been met with strong opposition.

A decision on the application was postponed by members of Scottish Borders Council's planning committee on Monday to allow for a site visit.

But within hours of the postponement bungling bosses within the planning department sent letters out to all 42 objectors as well as statutory consultees claiming the 'the Committee agreed that the application be approved in principle'.

Steve Dubé, who is one of the objectors and had attended the meeting, told us: "I was astonished to get this email.

"At the planning meeting councillors voted for a site visit - my first thought was that it was unlikely that they had been able to arrange a site visit so quickly.

"I then wondered whether it is usual practice for the council to draft such a letter before a decision has been made."

Organisations such as Historic Environment Scotland and Architectural Heritage Scotland as well as Peebles Community Trust, Peebles Civic Society and Peebles Community Council have all opposed the plans.

And a 1300-signature petition has also been tabled calling for the allotments on the site to be protected.

Mr Dubé doesn't believe Scottish Borders Council is acting in the best interests of the people of Peebles.

He added: "Approving the planning application by the owners, Moorbroook Textiles, would help them substantially increase the value of a badly contaminated and difficult site.

"The future cash windfall would be further boosted by Moorbrook's successful negotiation with the council planners for an unprecedented two-thirds reductions in the requirement for 25 percent affordable housing and developer contribution on the site.

"Coming away from the council meeting, I wondered whether this sort of thing is the approach normally expected of a body funded by and answerable to the people of Peebles."

Scottish Borders Council admit the original letter which was emailed to objectors and consultees was a mistake.

A spokesperson said: “Members of the planning committee on Monday decided to continue the March Street Mills application in order to carry out a site visit.

“An email was subsequently sent to all correspondents on the application, wrongly stating it had been approved.

“A further communication was sent out on Tuesday to inform them of the continuation of the application.

"We apologise for any confusion caused.”