Film studios refusal backed

An artist's impression of Pentland Studios

An artist's impression of Pentland Studios

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Councillors have agreed with officers’ recommendation to refuse planning permission for the film studios complex planned for Old Pentland.

Although Scottish Ministers will decide on the application, with a decision not expected until after the Scottish elections in May, the officers’ recommendation and comments made at last week’s planning meeting will go to Holyrood.

Councillor Kelly Parry (SNP) spoke about the benefits the film studios would bring, but she couldn’t approve the plans. She said: “It’s a very interesting proposal. And I can’t help but look at the job benefits and tourism opportunities. And I think we would jump at the chance ordinarily.

“That said, it would have to come forward with considerable adaptations and I don’t think this is it.

“While it’s welcome it should not be at any cost.”

Councillors quizzed council officers about the plans, which also include a hotel, a visitor centre, a film school and student accommodation, and mixed commercial use.

Labour group leader Derek Milligan said: “I think overall here the officers have pitched this right.

“Can we ask for conditions to be put in that the film studios be built first (before the other facilities) should the reporter disagree with us?”

Officers said they have would speak to the applicant if the film studios are approved.

Councillor Andrew Coventry (SNP) said: “I don’t know if the proposers are just playing hard ball.

“This proposal could have provided a huge opportunity for people in Midlothian. I’m really sad that we weren’t able to reach a consensus on this.

“Has the developer been offered other sites by Midlothian Council? Better sites than this one?”

The council’s head of planning Ian Johnson responded: “Right from the start the applicants were very clear that this was the site that they wanted to go to. So they were not asking about different sites.

“We were clear that there were issues with this site. And they know there are other areas in Midlothian available for this.”