Backlash to Bonnyrigg homes plan

Darius Namdarran(centre) and locals at the planned site  for 300 homes in Bonnnyrigg
Darius Namdarran(centre) and locals at the planned site for 300 homes in Bonnnyrigg

Plans to build 300 homes in Bonnyrigg have raised concerns about any impact on local services already struggling to cope with demand.

Walker Homes’ plans for the land north of Dalhousie Dairy come as Dalhousie Medical Practice became the third in the town to shut its list to new patients.

Speaking at last week’s Bonnyrigg Community Council special meeting to discuss the housing plans, its chairman Darius Namdaran encouraged residents who object to the plans to come together “to fight it now rather than at the formal planning permission stage.”

A group of residents formed a short term action group to inform their neighbours and arrange a public meeting with local councillors. The new group will focus primarily with the issue of access to the site.

The community council agreed to pay for the group’s leaflets to be printed.

Community council chairman Darius Namdaran summed up the meeting: “We can confidently say the majority view is that it’s too soon to develop this land because facilities are still racing to catch up on the recent extraordinary growth.

“For example, GP’s are now closed to new patients and morning traffic takes 30 minutes to cross the town.

“We call on councillors to insist that all GP practices need to be open to the 800 new people.

“Second, a proper new entrance needs to be formed with a bridge from Distributor Road (B6392), rather than the builders’ blatant cost cutting exercise of trailing through the neighbouring estate.

“Third, the green strip of land beside the new development is protected as common good land for dog walking, community woodland, and allotments.”

The pre-application was also discussed at last week’s planning meeting, where councillors were invited to make comment on the plans.

Council leader Councillor Catherine Johnstone (SNP), said: “My thoughts on this are we have got a shortage in some infrastructure.

“Things like GP surgeries, Lasswade High School etc.

“I think we should take stock of what we have before moving forward on this.”

Labour group leader Councillor Derek Milligan, said: “We don’t have school provision at the moment without having major changes to primary schools.

“I have also made the point about doctors’ surgeries in the area.

“The one real concern I want to flag up is the access road to the site. I would hope that entry could be taken by the B6392, rather than through the existing housing estate.

“I would also like to flag up the lack of playing fields in the area. It’s quite clear that there is now a capacity problem for football and rugby in the area.

“We also have the problem that I think somebody has to deal with. The people coming in have been asked to contribute to the Waverley Line. I had asked the head of planning can we get some of that planning gain to get extra carriages. It is my understanding that there is only two carriages at peak times.”

Green councillor Ian Baxter also raised the issue of broadband coverage in the area. He asked whether pressure could be put on developers to upgrade broadband cabinets. Council officers told him that they are trying to address the issue.

Graeme Patrick, Strategic Land Director, Walker Group said: “The site at Dalhousie Mains is identified for 300 residential units in the proposed Midlothian Local Development Plan and anticipates development commencing by 2017.

“Any proposed planning application lodged, following this consultation exercise, will comply fully with the council’s policies and standards.”