Developer given final chance at gas works

Green councillor Ian Baxter at the  site is at the former Arniston Gas Works.
Green councillor Ian Baxter at the site is at the former Arniston Gas Works.

The developer behind a controversial housing plan has been given “a final chance” to reach a legal agreement or face having the plan rejected.

Midlothian Council’s local review body has agreed to write to Pegasus Flooring, giving it six weeks to meet conditions originally given when the application was approved in October 2015.

Planning permission in principle for the erection of ten houses at the former Anriston Gas Works was originally refused in June 2015 for a number of reasons, including that it was contrary to the Local Plan and the density of the proposed development.

A notice of review was submitted by the applicants and in October 2015 the local review body controversially upheld the review and granted planning permission.

This was subject to conditions and the signing of a legal agreement to secure £120,000 of developer contributions towards education, children’s play provision, the Borders Railway line, town centre improvements and community facilities.

Councillors on the local review body were told at its meeting last week that the applicant had still not concluded the legal agreement “despite the planning authority’s continued and consistent best efforts”.

The councillors were given three options: Uphold the review and grant planning permission subject to conditions but not subject to the legal agreement; provide a further three months for the applicants to conclude the legal agreement, failing which the planning permission be refused; or wait until the legal agreement is concluded.

Green councillor Ian Baxter, who voted against the application when it first came to the local review body, called for the second option, but to only give the applicants one month to conclude the legal agreement. He said: “The developer didn’t seem interested in following any of the guidelines in the development process. This delay of well over a year now strengthens that feeling.”

Labour councillor Russell Imrie suggested writing to the applicant to give them another chance to make the legal agreement. He said: “If they don’t respond then the local review body will make a final decision at its next meeting. I think that’s fair.”

Cllr Baxter said he was worried that giving Pegasus the six weeks until the next meeting would send out the wrong signal and lead to future problems with developers. However, Cllr Imrie’s motion beat Cllr Baxter’s by three votes to two.