Glentress: Paving the way for planning consent
Glentress Forest is one of a number of forests in the Tweed Valley managed by Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS). Attracting over 300,000 visitors per years, Glentress is a key component in the Scottish Borders’ tourism offer, and has grown to become one of the UK’s premier mountain biking destinations over the last 20 years. It is at the forefront of FLS’s plans to ensure that important forest resources continue to be accessible to the public and offer a range of activities.
What they did
FLS was keen to develop Glentress to help extend the low average stay of visitors in the area and support the local economy. To guide future development, FLS decided to adopt a masterplanning approach. At the outset, conscious of numerous sensitivities, FLS was keen to strengthen relationships with local communities and businesses. Early engagement was therefore very important: not just about FLS land, but about the wider corridor between Peebles and Innerleithen, to determine how FLS and Glentress could complement rather than complete with other local initiatives and help grow the market.
As engagement progressed and the masterplan took shape, FLS found that ongoing workshops with local businesses, community groups and the council really helped to build relationships. Once complete, the masterplan was adopted by the local authority as Supplementary Guidance – a first for FLS – to guide future planning applications. This included an application by Forest Holidays, an FLS partner, for fifty new cabins and relocation of facilities. Forest Holidays had experienced challenges in securing planning consents on similar forestry sites in England, but, through that process of early engagement leading to a masterplan with community support, they were able to secure consent at Glentress and attract new investment to the local economy.
Read more from FLS and for more details of the Glentress development, you can read the full version of the case study in the report. The local authority Glentress Masterplan can be found at this link.