SCOTTISH Borders Housing Association has had its plans to build four houses in Oxton approved, despite objections from the site’s immediate neighbours.

The housing association is planning on building two semi-detached houses in place of a group of disused garages in Heriotfield, Oxton, but has received objections from residents of the neighbouring Justice Park, who argue that due to the elevation of the site, their properties will be dominated by the overlooking buildings.

The application has received nine objections, citing the loss of privacy and the impact on local amenities, and at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee on Monday councillors heard representations from the objectors.

Ben Redman, of Justice Park, Oxton, spoke on behalf of the neighbouring residents: “The Oxton community does not support this proposal.

“The community council has voted unanimously to reject the proposal, and many residents who weren’t consulted by Scottish Borders Council have also told us they object.

“The developers are attempting to make space for the development rather than make the development fit the space.

“The site itself is at least one metre higher than the properties in Justice Park. The development will tower over the bungalows in Justice Park resulting in considerable overlooking of the properties both Justice Park and Heriotfield, and loss of light to our properties, including several homes with solar panels.

“Residents are angry at the proposal which involves both the loss of green space and the loss of amenities from the demolition of the garages.”

In support of the application, Scottish Borders Housing Association’s chief executive Julia Mulloy also appeared before the committee. She told councillors that Oxton is crying out for affordable housing: “We own one unit of affordable housing in Oxton, that was last let in 2009, and this application is about creating four more homes.

“We currently have over 4,000 people applying for our housing, and in terms of local information, in Lauder, on average we receive around 35 bids per home.

“We believe that this will be higher for three bedroom family homes, as they are at a premium.

“The housing need in the Borders is challenging, and at the extreme we had 700 households last year that were homeless.

“This is one of many projects that ourselves and other housing associations are undertaking to improve the abundance of affordable homes in the Borders.”

In response to early criticism of the proposals, the housing association’s architects, London-based ECD Architects, moved the positioning of the houses three metres back from the properties on Justice Park.

Taking this into account, the council’s planning officer Scott Shearer urged councillors to approve the development. His report states: “The proposed development occupies a location within the Oxton settlement boundary, where national and local planning policies are generally supportive towards infill development.

“The revised siting and design of the proposed development is considered to respect the character of the surrounding area and the amenity of neighbouring residential properties.

“Subject to the compliance with the schedule of conditions, the development will accord with the relevant provisions of the local development plan 2016 and there are no material considerations that would justify a departure from these provisions.”

Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison agreed with the council’s planning officers, saying: “Taking everything into consideration, I’m reasonably happy with this and I’d move to accept the officer’s recommendation and approve.”

Councillors were in broad agreement and voted unanimously to approve the application.