Midlothian planning system under spotlight

The former Arniston Gas Works site
The former Arniston Gas Works site

The Federation of Community Council is holding a workshop aimed at making Midlothian residents better informed about the planning process.

The event will be held at the McSence Conference Centre, Sycamore Road, Mayfield, on Saturday from 10am.

While all Midlothian community councils will be represented, some places have been reserved for interested members of the public.

Eskbank Community Council chairman Bill Kerr Smith explained: “When it comes to designing the places where we live, learn, work and play, there is a serious democratic deficit in how planning decisions are made.

“The problem is that the concerns of the people most affected are not being valued, or are mostly ignored. The Scottish Government knows this, voluntary organisations the length and breadth of the country know this and even the people making most of the decisions – our local authorities – know this.

“Most of all, the community councils representing local residents know this, as month after month they encounter examples of how badly things can go wrong and how little can be done to rectify poor decisions.”

He recalled the recent approval by Midlothian Council’s Local Review Body for the development of the former Arniston Gas Works site, against the recommendations of planning officers and the agreed Local Plan.

Mr Kerr-Smith said: “Community Councils do their best to persuade the authorities that there is real value in preserving the identity of local communities threatened by coalescence, or that more houses won’t improve a locality where the clinics are already closed to new patients and the schools are overflowing, while children are less safe crossing ever-busier streets.

“Sadly, the vast majority of developer applications are approved and communities have no equal right of appeal.”

Representatives of Planning Democracy and the Scottish Community Alliance will address the federation workshop .

To reserve your place go to http://makingplanningwork.eventbrite.co.uk or call Mr Kerr-Smith on 0771 935 9201.