The Loanhead community remains furious about the state of former care home Mayburn House, as it “gives an awful first impression” of the town.
The property was purchased in 2014 from the Church of Scotland by Joseph Croan-Bee, who runs a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) at the nearby former Inveravon Hotel, with the intention of turning the property into a dwelling house for himself.
Three years on, the property remains empty and boarded up, with locals angry about rubble and damaged cars strewn around the front of the building.
Councillor Pauline Winchester (Con) told Loanhead Community Council at its latest meeting that she had looked into the matter since being elected in May and revealed that Mr Croan-Bee had been served a planning contravention notice and given 21 days to clear up the front of the property. She added that he could be reported to the Procurator Fiscal if he doesn’t comply and that the council could remove the cars and rubble and bill Mr Croan-Bee.
Community council chairman Pat Kenny said: “I know it’s a complicated thing but we were told of the same thing three months ago.
“It’s just got worse and worse, it’s a total eyesore.
“For the people living opposite it’s a horrible outlook. It used to be a lovely building and orchard, it’s now just a tip. Locals have suffered in silence for more than three years.”
A Midlothian Council spokesman confirmed that a notice had been served, although Mr Croan-Bee told the Advertiser he hadn’t received it, and he remained defiant stating: “It’s my land and I can do what I want”.
Mr Kenny added: “Hopefully this will get things moving now. So thanks for that Cllr, it’s something we have wanted to hear for a long time.
“The people of Loanhead are fed up with this, it’s one of the first buildings you see as you come into the town. It gives people an awful first impression. It’s high time he cleaned it up, or he could sell it back to the community.”
Mr Croan-Bee told the Advertiser he wasn’t aware of any notice served on him and that his “on-going” plan to move into the property could take ten years. He said: “It’s my land and I can do what I want. Until the council come to me it’s my property and I will do with it what I want to do with it.
“I’m not being cajoled by local district numpties.
“What is Loanhead? Is Loanhead Princes Street?”
He added that his cars parked outside Mayburn House were only damaged after he put them there.
A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “Midlothian Council’s planning authority has served Planning Contravention Notices on the owner of the land. He has failed to comply with the requirements of either notice.
“We are therefore in a legal process seeking removal of the cars that are stored in the grounds and to improve its condition.
“As such it would be inappropriate to provide further public comment at this stage.”