Midlothian Local Plan ‘a waste of time and money’

Green councillor Ian Baxter at the site of homes approved last week despite not being on the local development plan
Green councillor Ian Baxter at the site of homes approved last week despite not being on the local development plan

Midlothian’s Local Development Plan has been branded “a waste of time and money” after housing not included in it was approved.

Green councillor Ian Baxter severely criticised the decision by the Local Review Body to overturn planning officials’ refusal of an application at the site of the former Arniston Gas Works in Gorebridge, to build ten houses in an area not designated for housing in either the existing or proposed Local Development Plans.

Councillor Baxter said: “Why on earth does this council bother with a Local Development Plan when clearly inappropriate applications like this come along and they are waved through without 
a thought?

“We’ve just come through a long process of consultation, designating huge areas of Midlothian for housing development, far in excess of what Midlothian needs, yet councillors ignored all that and decided more mature trees need to be felled in an entirely inappropriate location to build more houses.

“The Local Development Plan, and all that consultation, now appears to have been a waste of time and money.

“Residents will need two cars per household as there is little public transport provision, no safe cycle or walkways and children have nowhere to play, having to cross the busy A7 to get anywhere.”

The application by Pegasus Flooring, for planning permission in principle for the ten homes at the former Arniston Gas Works, had been refused on June 30 this year by officers, on the grounds that it contravened the Local Plan and did not have good public transport links.

It was also opposed by the Forestry Commission which said there had already been illegal tree felling and they wanted to return the site to natural woodland. Although the applicant argued that the site was brownfield, the Greens claim it is clear from an aerial view that it is more than 80 per cent greenfield.

Councillor Baxter proposed that the planning officials’ decision to refuse the application be upheld, but failed to find a seconder.

A council spokesperson said: “The Local Review Body considered carefully all representations in relation to the application and came to the view that it merited being granted planning consent.”

Having granted planning permission the Local Review Body’s decision is subject to a legal agreement to secure developer contributions towards education provision, the Borders Railway, town centre improvements, children’s play provision and community facilities.

The current development plan for Midlothian consists of the Strategic Development Plan for South East Scotland and the Midlothian Local Plan.