A DEVELOPER is hoping for a U-turn to build a detached house at a former pioneering mental health hospital in Melrose.

Rivertree Residential Ltd is appealing refusal of an application for planning permission in principle for the erection of a house on land north of Ivanhoe in Dingleton Road.

The site forms part of the grounds of the former Dingleton Hospital, now converted into a successful apartment complex, with new build housing developments in the grounds.

The proposed site was formerly an orchard for the hospital but has not functioned as such for a number of years.

The planning bid was refused on the grounds that it would “be an unacceptable loss of protected trees which would undermine the value of the site as a historic orchard of amenity value”.

The current proposals require the removal of eight trees, of which six are Category C – low quality – and two are Category B – moderate quality. A further one tree requires removal due to its condition.

An appeal against refusal is to be considered by members of Scottish Border Council’s Local Review Body when members meet on Monday (January 22).

A supporting statement says the proposal is to reduce the impact of the development with a significantly reduced number of tree removals (eight from 17) and with an associated appropriate level of replacement planting for the site.

It adds: “Siting of the proposed plot in the western part of the site avoids any perception of loss of trees from the Dingleton Road frontage and, along with retention of the stone wall, will ensure the site’s qualities in the wider landscape are maintained.”

Dingleton Hospital closed its doors for the final time in 2001 and the main building was converted into apartments.

Through the work of pioneering American psychiatrist Dr Maxwell Jones in the 1960s, a therapeutic community model was introduced to the hospital, delivering a healing setting seen as transformative in its day, as well as instilling an ethos of community psychiatry, long before it was recognised nationally as best practice.