30th Dec 2020
That is what is being proposed and unless you object 45 houses will be built opposite Abbotsford.
If you are as upset at this possibility as the many people who have contacted us, please object before Jan 25th stating how you value the views from Abbotsford year round, and the impact you feel it may have on your enjoyment, on our tourism economy, and on the unique cultural and historical value of Abbotsford.
If, like us, you feel that planting a thin screen of trees which will take years to mature and would not adequately hide the development please say so – this is a critical part of the proposal.
How to Object
State you object to proposal AGALA029 Netherbarns in the Local Development Plan by Jan 25th
(Please note, we have had reports that the online form will not accept overseas addresses, in which case you should write or email)
Post: Forward Planning, Council Headquarters, Newtown St Boswells, Scottish Borders, TD6 0SA
Only if large numbers of objections are made will this proposal be overturned – we are depending on you.
Giles Ingram, Chief Executive of The Abbotsford Trust
As the eyes of the world fall on Abbotsford for Walter Scott’s 250th anniversary, let’s not let our visitors be greeted by the sounds of diggers across the Tweed.
The Abbotsford Trust objects to the development of the Netherbarns site because the associated light, sound and visual intrusions will impact adversely on its heritage assets, historic setting and the cultural landscape of the Scottish Borders and Tweed Valley. This impact will reduce the enjoyment of visitors to Abbotsford and reduce the economic contribution which Abbotsford makes to the region now and in the future.
The Abbotsford Trust has based our objection on the National Planning Framework 3:
NPF3 recognises the contribution made by our cultural heritage to our economy, cultural identity and quality of life. Planning has an important role to play in maintaining and enhancing the distinctive and high-quality, irreplaceable historic places which enrich our lives, contribute to our sense of identity and are an important resource for our tourism and leisure industry.
Our objection follows previous ones to earlier reports, and now points out incorrect statements within the Local Development Plan 2 (LDP2) relating to the site and its impact on Abbotsford. It is evidenced with new data and statistics.
1) LDP2 is based on incorrect information
The LDP2 is based on incorrect advice in the supporting Full Site Assessment of the Netherbarns site (pg 252). It states:
“These proposals confirm the site will not be visible from Abbotsford House during the Summer months and in the Winter months (when Abbotsford House is closed to the public) photomontages have shown that only fleeting views of very small parts of the site could be seen, but proposed housing (i.e. this would be a low density development of 45 units) would not be located within these visible locations”
This is incorrect for the following reasons:
a) It ignores the fragility of the mature tree screening on which the proposal is dependent, and which was made clear in Abbotsford’s MIR objection of Feb 2019. This is based on professional advice received by the Trust with regard to management of the screening woodland in the Trust’s ownership. It is highly likely that sight lines to the development will be created as mature trees fall naturally or are felled as part of active woodland management.
b) It is incorrect to state that Abbotsford House is closed in winter, and misleading to suggest by this statement that visits to Abbotsford in the winter are negligible. Abbotsford House is now open annually in Dec. The Visitor Centre has been open all year since 2014. Restoration of Scott’s paths in 2018 has led to increased visits to walk Abbotsford’s estate year-round. A ‘people counter’ sited on the paths at Abbotsford from July 2020 recorded 13,000 visits in Dec 2020 alone, and 84,000 visits since it was introduced in mid July 2020. 30% of Nov & Dec visits are from dusk when lights from Netherbarns would be particularly visible through the thin tree cover.
2) LDP2 does not properly assess Netherbarn’s impact on Abbotsford’s contribution to the region
Abbotsford has welcomed over 160,000 paying visitors from July 2014 – 2019. A sustained annual increase in visits of 82% (prior to Covid), contributing a total £7.4m to the local economy and supporting 148 jobs, as well as creating an additional 35 new jobs at Abbotsford.
The Abbotsford Trust in 2019 adopted a strategic plan which includes the following goal:
This goal is dependent on a number of long term targets which include safeguarding Scott’s landscape, improving the visitor experience, and increasing visits year round. None of the above has been referenced in either LDP2 or its supporting documents, and yet our objections have made clear that we consider the development of the Netherbarns site as detrimental to achieving these targets.
Surely it is the purpose of National Planning Framework 3 to enable such ambition and potential?
3) Scott’s 250th Anniversary & Year of Scotland’s Stories - A building site when the eyes of the world are on Abbotsford?
We are grateful for the support of Scottish Government, the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency and VisitScotland towards celebrating Scott’s 250th Anniversary in 2021-22. Celebrations are being planned by an international partnership of 54 organisations led by Abbotsford, with Abbotsford at the centre of the visitor experience.
As the eyes of the world fall on Abbotsford during the Year of Scotland’s Stories in 2022, how will we explain the sights and sounds of diggers which greet our international visitors?
Walter Scott believed that ‘his oaks would outlive his laurels’, i.e. that his landscape would be more precious and loved in the future than his books. Please do not let his 250th anniversary be the year Scotland proves him wrong.
We hope that we can forestall the site’s inclusion in future Local Development Plans by putting forward our case, now and forever, on the detrimental impact of a development at Netherbarns on Abbotsford, the jewel in the crown of the Borders.
Giles Ingram Chief Executive