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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 15:43 GMT
Abbotsford inquiry comes to close
Abbotsford House
Protesters said the plans would be a 'blemish' on the house
Housing plans opposite the historic home of Sir Walter Scott have been dubbed a "slap in the face" to anyone who cares about Scotland's heritage.

Abbotsford House trustee Andrew Douglas-Home made the claim in closing submissions to a public inquiry.

M & J Ballantyne wants to build 79 homes at Netherbarns near Galashiels.

Chris Smylie, representing the firm, said the development was consistent with both the local council structure plan and national planning policy.

The five-day public inquiry has now concluded with a final decision expected from Scottish ministers in about four months time.

Mr Douglas-Home said there was a duty to protect the landscape which had inspired the author.

It would represent a failure for the trustees and a slap in the face for those of us who care about Scotland's cultural heritage
Andrew Douglas-Home
Abbotsford trustee

"We do this because we believe that it is essential for future generations that continued erosion and desecration of Abbotsford's environment stops," he said.

"Sir Walter will turn in his grave at the idea of a Ballantyne building 79 modern houses directly opposite his adored house in his equally adored Abbotsford landscape."

He explained that links between Scott and the Ballantyne family dated back to the 1820s.

"It would represent a failure for the trustees and a slap in the face for those of us who care about Scotland's cultural heritage," he added.

Trudy Craggs, representing Historic Scotland, said that given the national importance of Abbotsford it was essential that this treasure was not lost or further eroded.

The National Trust for Scotland and Save Scott's Countryside also voiced their objections to the housing development.

However, Mr Smylie insisted the plan was consistent with planning advice at both local and national level.

No objection

He pointed out local residents were not protesting and added that Galashiels Community Council had not objected.

Mr Smylie said that the site was screened from the view of Abbotsford by a belt of trees which could be reinforced by more planting.

He added that the applicants understood the "sensitivities of the site" and had made every effort to respect them.

Inquiry reporter Michael Thomson will now make a recommendation to Scottish ministers who will have the final decision.

The process is expected to take about four months.

Site visit over Abbotsford plans
22 Jan 07 |  South of Scotland
Scott housing impact 'negligible'
17 Jan 07 |  South of Scotland
Date set for Abbotsford inquiry
14 Dec 06 |  South of Scotland
Abbotsford plans to go to inquiry
04 Aug 06 |  South of Scotland
Council supports Abbotsford plans
09 May 06 |  South of Scotland
Abbotsford houses approval sought
30 Apr 06 |  South of Scotland
10m target to save Scott's home
23 Feb 06 |  Scotland

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