Concern at plan for ex-school site
Town councillors have raised concerns about the impact of proposed new townhouses on Berwick's historic ramparts and the surrounding area.
Berwick Town Council’s planning committee also acknowledged that St Aidan’s House on Palace Green had long been one of the town’s biggest eyesores and said it was still in favour of some sort of redevelopment.
But Coun Ivor Dixon said: “I have certainly got my reservations about this.
“It’s the historical heart of the town and a lot of people do use the walls and I wonder what impact it would have on a lot of historic buildings.
“It’s a delicate site and it needs something to be done with it. When you walk around the walls there are all sorts of buildings but then when you come across the old school, it’s like a bomb site.”
Coun Alan Bowlas added: “I don’t think enough consideration has been given to the historic setting.”
Councillors said more information from the applicant was needed before they could give their blessing.
In particular, they wanted to see drawings or artist’s impressions of how the townhouses would look when viewed from the walls and river.
Coun Anne Forbes, leader of cub and scouts groups which meet nearby, raised concerns about increased traffic on the area’s narrow streets.
Premier Inn also has planning permission for a 60-bedroom hotel nearby, with no dedicated parking for guests.
However, Coun Brian Douglas felt this was not a major issue, pointing out that the Governor’s Garden development did not seem to have exacerbated the problem.
“The deterioration of the building has been a site for sore eyes,” he added. “It’s something I’ve received a lot of complaints on. The trees and shrubs in that garden area have looked horrendous.
“The disappointment I have is that the plans don’t show the heights of the houses compared with Wellington Terrace. It’s very low down from the walls There’s probably a 15 to 20 feet drop from the walls on to that site so straight away that’s one level. I think it’s probably something that would fit in well there.”
Earlier this year, Michael Guthrie Developments secured planning permission to convert the former school into six dwellings.
Aitchison Building Design, on the developer’s half, has now submitted an application for a three-storey terraced scheme offering stunning views over the River Tweed.
Several residents attended the meeting to voice their concerns.
Zoreen Hill said: “Concerns have been voiced by many people over the proposedbuildings. It would have a very detrimental effect on the whole of that historic area.
“It seems to be one of the worst examples of planning creep in that the first plans were passed and now they’ve come in with this.”
Judy Nicholson called for archaeologists to oversee the development if it is , given the experiences at nearby Governor’s Garden where historic remains were found and the scheme had to be temporarily halted.
Alan Hughes added: “Michael Guthrie is a well-respected local builder and businessman and something needs to be done with the site but it must be sympathetic to the town. You don’t want it to be like walking along the seafront at Margate.”