Councillors’ hands are tied over housing

Cllr Derek Milligan  outside Bonnyrigg Health Centre.
Cllr Derek Milligan outside Bonnyrigg Health Centre.

Councillors last week reluctantly approved new housing despite cross-party fears of the impact on local services already at breaking point.

With all seven GP surgeries in the east side of Midlothian currently operating with restricted patient lists, councillors on the planning committee admitted they are worried about the impact building more houses will have on surgeries.

However, they claimed that if they reject applications, then developers simply appeal to the Scottish Government.

While discussing the application for 28 homes at Dalhousie Dairy, Bonnyrigg, the latest piece in the ‘HS10’ jigsaw at Hopefield, elected members admitted their hands are tied.

Labour group leader Councillor Derek Milligan said: “I think members are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We are going to continue to be forced to build more houses.

‘‘If we say no they will appeal, but they wont be prepared to put in benefits and contributions we are asking them to put in.

‘‘Unfortunately we are faced with the decision, if we don’t put it through today it will definitely go through on appeal in my opinion, and we will lose the benefits before us today.”

Regarding this particular application, councillors thanked the developer for listening to local concerns by agreeing to construct a bridge to enable development on the wider Hs10 site and new entrance road to the site instead of gaining access from the existing homes as originally planned. Council officials were also instructed to speak to developers about a possible roundabout at the entrance road.

Councillor Lisa Beattie (SNP) believes that Midlothian Council and NHS Lothian’s Midlothian Integration Joint Board (IJB) could do more on surgeries. She said: “What, if anything, is being done to mitigate this impact(on GP surgeries) and address concerns?

“If we are united in this we can go back to the IJB to raise concerns.

‘‘Are we actually selling the idea that we are the fastest growing area in Scotland, to encourage nurses and doctors into the area?

“Midlothian as an area of considerable growth should be the target of attention for other organisations to bring their weight behind this situation, to bring better provision for health care for future and current residents.”

While accepting this application, the planning committee agreed to talk to the IGB to find solutions regarding the lack of GP provision in the county, and to promote Midlothian more widely to health care professionals.