Hopefield residents’ woes worsen

Council land in Hopefield opposite Braeburn Avenue, Bonnyrigg where travellers have appeared.
Council land in Hopefield opposite Braeburn Avenue, Bonnyrigg where travellers have appeared.

Residents in Bonnyrigg’s Hopefield estate already fighting to stop a commercial development across the road from them were faced with a second issue this week when a group of travelling people pitched camp on the site.

Around 15 families moved into the site over the weekend – using heavy lifting equipment to move heavy concrete blocks that had prevented access to the site.

Now Midlothian Council has started legal proceedings to move them on from the site.

But residents are also concerned over council plans for the site, the designated use for which they believe has changed from business to commercial without their knowledge.

And they say they wouldn’t have bought their homes if they had known the site would be used as a council transport depot.

Andrew Jarmin moved into his home last year, aware of the site’s business designation. But, he claims, the change in designation has been “almost completely under the radar – it’s completely illegal”.

Andrew’s main concern is round the impact on the value of his house that the depot will have.

“My property price will undoubtedly suffer,” he said.

Sara-Jayne Reid, of Hopefield Residents Association, said council discussions over the future of the site had been secret but through a Freedom of Information request she had discovered the plans for a council depot there.

“I don’t think anyone was aware of these plans when they bought their houses,” she said, fearing: “It could mean around 100 HGVs parking in the area, coming and going – and if that included gritters it could mean 24-hour movements.”

Ms Reid has promised that the residents’ association is monitoring planning applications and will be acting if plans are submitted for a depot on the site.

A Midlothian Council spokesman confirmed that the council had plans to bring three of its depots together at Hopefield, along with offices for administration staff, adding: “Development of that land will require the submission of a planning application on which there would be public consultation and opportunity for local residents, and any other interested parties, to make representations to the council.”