A HUGE housing development on the former Gretna golf course has been approved despite strong opposition from the community.
Alba Developments have been given the green light to build 200 homes on the 11-hectare site, with the first brick set to be laid in early 2022.
As part of the legal agreement with Dumfries and Galloway Council, the developers will also contribute £570,000 towards an upgrade of the over-stretched Gretna Primary, along with £250,000 towards upgrading water connections.
The application came before the planning committee on Tuesday where it was heard that Gretna and Rigg Community Council opposed the plans.
A 78-signature petition and 23 letters of objection were also submitted to the council in opposition to the proposals on the site, which hasn’t been used for golf for more than 15 years.
Most of the concerns relate to water and sewage, access roads potentially being unsuitable for the amount of traffic that will be using them, positioning of the access roads and worries about the overcrowding of Gretna Primary School.
Objector Charles Dodd highlighted worries around flooding, sewage, and the scale of the development.
He said: “I ask the committee to take these serious concerns into account as the additional water run-off during prolonged periods of rain from roofs, drives, roads, and sewage from 200 homes could devastate existing properties to the east unless correctly assessed.
“Who is responsible if flooding occurs in the future when information is readily available now?”
Objector Janet Dodd added: “I fail to see why we need a development of this size when it has been well-publicised that all local facilities and services are already overwhelmed, and the community council is against it.”
Beverley Ann Robinson urged planning councillors to throw out the housing plans, saying: “This is a plan for major construction in Gretna. I believe it is the largest it has seen since the First World War.
“It must be presented to the whole of the community and all of the community must be allowed to have their say.”
Paul Scott, a planning consultant representing Alba Developments, said: “The application is seeking detailed approval to allow 200 houses to be built on a site that has been allocated for this purpose for at least seven years.
“It will allow the council to meet its housing land requirement. It will facilitate the delivery of 40 affordable houses on the site to be operated by Cunningham Housing Association.
“It will deliver a mix of housing that will meet the needs of families in the whole community.”
In up to eight construction phases, the development will include 40 homes for social rent and a mix of two-storey and bungalow semi-detached and terraced properties.
Councillors unanimously agreed to approve the application.
Shane Tickelpenny, managing director of Alba Developments, said: “We’ve already had inquiries from members of the public asking when these houses might be available, which shows how many people want to move to the thriving and growing community in Gretna.
“It is a wonderful place and I am looking forward to our development adding to that by allowing new families to move to the area.”
“The upgrades we will be making to local infrastructure and the contribution we are making to supporting Gretna Primary School are all part of our plans to help the area continue to thrive in the future and we can’t wait to get started.”