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New Abbey heritage site plans rejected

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
New Abbey heritage site plans rejected

VILLAGERS have won another battle to protect a heritage site in New Abbey.

New Abbey Corn Mill, an 18th century building and heritage site run by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), has been at the centre of a long-running landscaping and development row.

HES first tried and failed in 2017 to make landscaping changes around the site to help alleviate traffic safety issues, particularly with heavy goods vehicles trying to manoeuvre round a tight corner.

The organisation submitted a fresh planning application to the council, with proposals which included removing a hedge, felling a cherry tree and installing large granite boulders next to the road.

However, local residents voiced their opposition, as did various heritage groups.

The case was heard by the council’s planning committee last week. Objector Anina Hutton attended and stated: “New Abbey Community Council has significant misgivings that the proposed solution is the most effective and environmentally-acceptable one.

“The chairman is a road engineer who has looked at this over many years.

“The cherry tree described as ‘collision-prone’ in the report suffered a broken branch years ago, but with correct pruning there’s little danger of falling debris. It has actually been deemed to be in good condition by tree surgeons.”

Mrs Hutton argued that the “most significant safety issue” is for pedestrians and cyclists due to a badly-eroded verge which has been waiting years for repairs. She added: “This proposal will make the situation on the road more dangerous.”

Meanwhile, David Cavaye, who stays in a house next to the road, said: “I didn’t oppose the original proposal but I do now after living here for six years.

“The proposal is unlikely to solve the key issues. The lorries are still going to find it difficult to make the turning.

“The turning could be made much easier by simply moving the boundary wall of the mill pond.

“This is something which has been supported by New Abbey Community Council – but has not been taken up by Historic Environment Scotland.

“I feel that the proposal puts HES’s, and also other commercial interests, ahead of the residential interests.”

Annandale and Eskdale Councillor Archie Dryburgh acknowledged the points raised by objectors but called for the application to be approved on planning grounds.

However, Nith Councillor Keith Walters called for it to be rejected on various grounds, including that it would go against the council’s local development plan, safety reasons, and that the installation of the granite boulders would not enhance this heritage site.

This view was shared by Nith Councillor David Slater, who seconded the amendment, and Castle Douglas Councillor Pauline Drysdale, who said: “I think we need to listen to our communities – which is often not happening these days.”

A vote between councillors went 13-5 in favour of refusing the planning application by Historic Environment Scotland.


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