Capital ‘set to swallow up county’

Straiton retail park is to double in size
Straiton retail park is to double in size

Proposals for future development and land use run the risk of turning Midlothian into “little more than an extension of suburban Edinburgh.”

That is the view of Midlothian Green Party, which this week joined scores of community groups in condemning the Proposed Midlothian Local Development Plan (MLDP) - a document that outlines development strategy in Midlothian up to 2024.

Proposals include doubling the size of Straiton Retail Park and realigning the A701 road, while a housing boom would increase the population by 25 per cent.

The strategy, agreed to in principal last December, has led to fears that greenbelt will be lost and that historic towns and villages will become coalesced.

Midlothian Landscapes and Communities Protection member Janice Neil said: “The policies are unsustainable, and the massive scale of new private housing will further diminish the amenity of existing communities, and result in coalescence and merging of communities, placing additional unsustainable pressures on our already struggling educational, social care and health services.”

Even the transparency of the Proposed Plan has come under fire. Held on December 9 to provide information on the draft MLDP, a seminar was not open to the public, and locals were excluded from the council meeting that approved the Proposed Plan. No public information meetings have been organised during the current consultation period which ends on Friday.

The requirement for 12,490 new houses by 2024 was laid down by the SESPlan (South East Scotland Strategic Development Planning Authority) partnership and is not challengeable.

Darius Namdaran, Chairman of Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council, said: “That’s 15,000 extra vehicles to gridlock our roads, the need for at least 10 additional GPs and 4,000 extra dogs to foul our pavements and parks.”

Bill Kerr-Smith, Chairman of Eskbank and Newbattle Community Council, said: “This leads to a situation where Midlothian is subject to statutory environmental degradation to satisfy the housing needs of Edinburgh. We do not need the extra housing proposed in the MLDP and we do not need the extra load on clinics, schools, roads and social services. Nothing in the MLDP mitigates the impact of the extra housing in the plan.“

Midlothian Greens co-convener Malcolm Spaven added: “The council’s proposals run the risk of turning Midlothian into little more than an extension of suburban Edinburgh, with more roads, cars and commuting.”