Kippielaw housing plan labelled ‘attack’ on community

The boundary for the proposed housing planned for Kippielaw.
The boundary for the proposed housing planned for Kippielaw.

Mayfield residents are outraged at what they call “yet another attack” on their local community from planning officials at Midlothian Council.

Gladman Developments has submitted a new planning application for a proposed housing development and new primary school at Kippielaw on behalf of land owner Lord Ralph Kerr.

The site includes the ‘triangle field’ which separates Easthouses from Kippielaw and will cross Easthouses Road joining Easthouses Way to Woodburn at the A68.

In 2017 all 18 councillors rejected a proposal for the Kippielaw land. The Save Kippielaw campaign received cross party support to reject the plans and save the green space for the community.

The campaign group now claims that council officials have been in negotiations with the landowner on a deal to re-zone the land from countryside to housing in return for a financial contribution to a new primary school – a claim denied by Midlothian Council.

The group believes the site will accommodate around 400 homes, double the 199 homes planned 18 months ago by Walker Homes.

Stephen Liddell from the campaign group, said: “Local democracy has now been replaced by developer greed supported by council officials who think they know better than our elected councillors.

“This time round the landowner has doubled the area being proposed for housing.

“Obviously we are devastated. At this point we are trying to gather info and work out what we can do about it.

“Based on recent planning applications in Mayfield, we estimate the number of new houses to be in excess of 400. Ironically with a primary school pupil ratio of 0.25 pupils per new house, the sacrificed land will generate around 100 extra pupils making school capacity even worse. Four hundred new houses will create around 1000 new residents for the local area.

“The 2017 Local Plan states that Midlothian has met the targets for new housing set by the Scottish Government with a margin of nearly 20 per cent flexibility overall, so there is no need for sites such as Kippielaw to be allocated for housing.

“These are sustained and deliberate attacks amounting to harassment. Since 2004 this will be the fourth attempt to offer our countryside to developers for profit.”

Of the 2100 comments on the 2017 Local Plan 1300 were objections to the Kippielaw site.

Stephen explained why he believed the site should remain as it is:Even if further sites were required for housing, this would not be an appropriate choice.

“Kippielaw has been rejected three times already for a whole raft of reasons. It would lead to the coalescence of Easthouses and Dalkeith depriving each of it’s separate identity.

“It is prime agricultural farmland. It is treasured green space designated by planners as countryside.

“There is a 10 inch diameter high pressure gas pipeline bisecting the site on both sides of Easthouses Road with a Blast Zone corridor of 32 metres leaving residents with unacceptable risks in the event of a pipe fracture.

“These lands are widely used and appreciated by local residents who otherwise would have no green space between the centre of Dalkeith and Mayfield. Further development would result in increased pressure on local services including schools at primary and secondary level, GP practices, and increased traffic on Easthouses Road.

“We understand that the council has alternative sites available for a new primary school in the event that this site is rejected. Surely they should look to these alternatives rather than sell off our remaining green space for a short term cash payment.

“I urge locals to attend the next Mayfield and Easthouses Community Council meeting at 7pm on February 6 at McSence Business Park to discuss their concerns.”

A council spokeswoman said: “There is no deal to re-zone land for housing in return for a financial contribution to a new primary school.”