Residents in Penicuik are up in arms at plans to turn over an area of green space and parking spaces in their neighbourhood for 20 flats.
The planning application by Jackie O’Neill is to build the flats at Windsor Square on the site of a former children’s home and on an area of council-owned green space, which includes 20 parking spaces.
The council has said any decision on the future of this land will depend on the planning committee’s decision on the application.
The proposals have met strong opposition from locals keen to see the green space remain, with 44 objections on the council’s website.
Local resident Robert Aitchison organised a residents’ meeting on the issue and was also part of a group which took concerns raised at that meeting to Penicuik Community Council.
He said: “Obviously losing the green space is bad for the community. It’s an amenity for the kids and 20 parking spaces.“About 10 years ago they put in a planning application for bungalows for disabled people. But the council said no because it’s on green space.
“Around that time we asked to put parking in so the local councillor got us 20 parking spaces there. All the residents happily agreed to it so the council agreed to it.
“It’s virtually the last piece of green space in the area.”
Robert explained the strength of feeling in the community against the proposals.
He said: “Five of us went to the community council meeting last month. They said they would back us. And we had 44 people turn up to the public meeting we held to discuss this application. “So the local community is clearly against these plans. We have got a lot of backing in Penicuik. We have formed a residents’ committee to fight these plans.
“We don’t have a problem building on the boundary where the current building is but the developers say that wouldn’t be viable.
“The green space land still belongs to Midlothian Council but they have obviously done a deal to sell that land to the applicant.”
Applicant Jackie O’Neill’s agent Robert Chalmers declined the opportunity to comment on the issue.
A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “Midlothian Council, as Planning Authority, is currently assessing a planning application for the erection of 20 flatted dwellings, and associated development, on land at Windsor Square, Penicuik.
“The planning authority has received representations regarding this development proposal from local residents and will take these comments in to account when concluding its determination of the planning application.
“Part of the land in question is held on the council’s housing revenue account and any decision on the future of this interest will depend on the planning outcome.”