PROPOSALS to build 13 new homes alongside the A7 in Selkirk have been approved, despite objections from neighbours over road safety.

Melrose-based contractors Rural Renaissance, which is the developer arm of JS Crawford, is set to build on land to the south east of Selkirk Tennis Club, on Hillside Terrace. 

However, Selkirk residents who live directly opposite the proposed site have objected to the plans, citing concerns over the safety of the A7 and the added pressure of a new access. 

Appearing before Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee on Monday, Selkirk residents Dr Lindsay Neil and Dr Vivienne Nash voiced their concerns. 

Dr Neil, now retired, told the committee: “For over 20 years, I was a GP in Selkirk, and I’ve lived in a house near the site for 46 years. 

“Apart from the volume of traffic, which has increased by a number of magnitudes over the years I’ve lived there, the speed of the traffic is one of the reasons why this whole thing is concerning. 

“We do not have any objection to developing that field. What we have an objection to is the dangers imposed by having access onto the A7.”

Dr Vivienne Nash added: “I live in a house opposite, and my access is directly adjacent to the field.

“I’m not objecting to the housing, I have great concerns regarding the access onto this extremely busy and overloaded trunk road.

“I hope that no further accesses will be approved until a Selkirk bypass is constructed.  “The speed and volume of traffic is horrendous, with very few road users adhering to the 30mph speed limit.  “We’ve campaigned for over nine years to have some sort of traffic calming measures or signage but to no avail.”

Selkirkshire councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol has also voiced her concerns about the A7, but in a written submission to the council’s planning department she stopped short of objecting to the development.  She wrote: “The speed of vehicles both north and south bound on the A7 Hillside Terrace prevents turning in and out of driveways and there is concern that adding approximately 20 more vehicles will simply exacerbate this.

“This is a major trunk road and will have a serious impact on traffic movement, impacting on residents, through traffic (including business traffic) and others who use the road.”

Despite these concerns, officers told the committee that Transport Scotland has approved the plans, subject to a condition requiring a temporary traffic management system be put in place during construction of the access.

As part of the application, Rural Renaissance also said it will widen the A7 alongside the site to improve road safety.

Appearing on behalf of Rural Renaissance, Gavin Yuill, of Galashiels-based Camerons Architects, told the chamber: “Careful consideration has been given both to the new sightlines at the junction, along with the stopping distance along the A7.  “In addition to the junction sightlines, the first ten metres of the junction have been designed to align with Transport Scotland’s requirement for a low approach gradient at the junction.

“Discussions were held with Transport Scotland to determine the layout of the proposed access, and it is their opinion that the junction provides an acceptable access for the site.

“The access is safe, compliant, and the most appropriate access point for the site.

“In response to the comments from councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol the introduction of additional residential units on the east side of Hillside Terrace will in fact help reduce vehicle speeds as it will help create a more residential feel with houses on both sides of the road.”

Councillors were generally in agreement that because Transport Scotland had voiced no objections to the plans, to reject the application on those grounds would open up the council to an appeal. 

Kelso councillor Simon Mountford explained to the committee: “There is no justification in refusing this given that it has the backing of the local development plan and Transport Scotland, who have approved the access.

“If it was dismissed it would simply be appealed and that would expose the council to unnecessary additional costs.”

Although the members of the committee agreed with many of the concerns about the safety of the road, council officers advised that because the A7 is a trunk road, the responsibility for installing signage and traffic calming measures lies with Transport Scotland, who have so far declined to do so.  The application was agreed unanimously by the committee.