HMO passed despite location fears

Councillor Kelly Parry pictured at the former children's care home, however, the building set to become an HMO is situated behind the building pictured
Councillor Kelly Parry pictured at the former children's care home, however, the building set to become an HMO is situated behind the building pictured

A former children’s home in Lasswade is to be turned into a house of multiple occupancy (HMO), despite concerns about its remote location.

The decision was made at last week’s General Purposes Committee meeting to approve the HMO application to accommodate up to 17 people at Polton Centre, Lasswade (formerly Midfield House Children’s Home).

Councillor Russell Imrie (Lab) raised his concerns about the isolated location.

He said: “I support wholeheartedly HMOs and I have up to now. But this is an isolated property. It’s in the countryside.

“All the data that I got talks in terms of getting these people as part of the community.

“My concern is that not only are these vulnerable people but they also don’t have much money in their pocket.

“And it’s going to cost them money for the bus to get to places. That could be the difference to what they eat and what they can’t eat.

“What we are trying to do is right but the location is important to bring that person back into a normal way of life. Those people could be vulnerable and we have a duty of care. I don’t feel this is an appropriate location for an HMO.”

Green councillor Ian Baxter agreed. He said: “It would be very difficult for anyone to get anywhere from there.

“I just feel that it wouldn’t be the right location for getting people psyched up for being part of the community again. So I don’t think I could support it.”

Councillor Baxter also raised the possibility of selling the property and using the money to build accommodation for homeless people in “a more stable environment”.

Councillor Derek Rosie (SNP) believes that Polton Centre would bring homeless people closer to their communities than they currently are.

He said: “At the moment we are actually sending people into Edinburgh. So, if they want to come back to Midlothian they have to travel.

“So that’s happening just now, and I just feel that at least this is closer to their communities than they currently are.”

Fellow SNP Councillor Kelly Parry added: “Most people are only a couple of pay packets away from being homeless themselves. And this is an empty building. Do we just leave it empty and send the homeless people from Midlothian to Edinburgh?

“I actually live across the road from this and it isn’t isolated, it’s a community.

“Could we provide bus day tickets? Is there a solution that could alleviate some of the concerns raised?”

Head of housing services Kevin Anderson revealed that there is a fund for bus tickets.

The HMO licence was accepted by eight votes to four.