A bid to build houses on the greenbelt has been thrown out by the Scottish Government Reporter, despite his admission the land is “indistinct”.
Developers appealed to Scottish Ministers after Midlothian Council rejected their plans for a site off Dalhousie Road, Dalkeith.
The plans for over two hectares of land beside Hardengreen House, included a retail park and business units.
However, developers added 20 new homes on part of the land which is designated as greenbelt, leading to the project being dismissed.
Councillors agreed with officers’ recommendations to refuse planning and the local authority’s development management manager Peter Arnsdorf told councillors he believed they would have a “very strong case” to win any challenge to their decision.
The Reporter agreed with the council and refused an appeal against their decision, even though he acknowledged the greenbelt area was not in a good condition.
He said: “From my site inspection, it is clear the greenbelt boundary is indistinct, with only a post and wire fence in poor condition demarcating it from the site.”
He added he agreed with the developers that the area served no useful purpose and was subject to anti-social behaviour, with graffiti seen on an adjacent railway bridge; however, he said taking away its greenbelt status would have to be done by reviewing the council’s Local Development Plan, not a planning application.
Ruling in favour of the council, he said: “The proposal does not accord with the development plan and there are no material considerations which would still justify granting planning permission.”