Government rejects housing development overlooking Abbotsford

16th August 2023

The Abbotsford Trust is delighted to report that the Scottish Government have overturned the recommendation by Scottish Borders Council to build 45 houses on land overlooking Scott’s historic Abbotsford house and estate.  

The Trust wishes to thank the many, many people and organisations from across the world who joined the Trust in objecting to the proposed Netherbarns housing development.

Some 500 objections were lodged with the Council on the basis that the rural views across the River Tweed from Scott’s home at Abbotsford would be irreversibly changed forever by the proposed development of 45 houses at Netherbarns.

The Council recommended the Netherbarns proposal go ahead in its Local Development Plan (LDP), a long term strategy which has been the subject of consultation since 2018.

The LDP’s final approval stage entails a review by a Government appointed Reporter, with their recommendations being binding.The Reporter has recommended that the Netherbarns site be deleted from the proposed Galashiels settlement map, amending the town boundary to exclude the proposed development site. The land should instead be allocated within a ‘Countryside Around Towns’ designation.

Giles Ingram, Chief Executive, said “This is the third time the Trust and its supporters have galvanised support from across Scotland and beyond to a proposed housing development on land overlooking Abbotsford. Once again, development on Netherbarns has aroused the highest number of objections of any proposal within the Local Development Plan. Once again, the Council has approved the Netherbarns site for development, only to be over ruled by the Reporter.

I very much hope that this is the final time Netherbarns is brought forward for inappropriate development. Fighting such a proposal takes time and energy away from the valuable charitable work of The Abbotsford Trust.”

The Abbotsford Trust raised concerns that the only proposed screening of the site will be the existing steep wooded slope cared for by the Trust, and a thin line of new planting which will not only be insufficient but according to the developer take many years to mature. Advice to the Trust from woodland management experts is to expect sight lines to the development land to be created as the very mature trees in its care fall due to natural causes in coming years.

Giles Ingram continued “We were particularly concerned that the development would be most visible from late Autumn to Spring. The proposals incorrectly took the view that winter visits to Abbotsford are negligible and so that does not matter. In fact, we know that in December alone some 13,000 estate visits are usually made, many at dusk as lights from the new houses would show clearly. The House is now open to admissions throughout December and our ambition has long been to increase visits year round.”