Colin Beattie MSP will lobby the Scottish Government about planning applications being passed despite serious objections from communities.
Recently in Roslin, two applications for housing developments were approved despite a high volume of objections and a petition from the local community.
The speed of new housing developments springing up across Midlothian, the fastest growing local authority area in Scotland, has been a major issue in recent years. Community leaders have often expressed concerns about the lack of infrastructure to support new developments and the threat of coalescence between towns and villages.
Speaking on this issue, the Midlothian North SNP MSP said: “Most communities accept that there is a need for housing but also see the need to mitigate the impact of the new housing by making often small changes to planning conditions, which would improve the outcomes for local communities and make planning applications more palatable.
“It cannot be acceptable in a democratic society for the wishes of large numbers of genuinely interested local residents to be ignored or dismissed. Just because objections come from members of the public who will be impacted does not mean that this is simply ‘nimbyism’.
“I have been impressed by the strength and logic of some of the arguments made and have been surprised that greater weight was not given to properly informed local opinion.
“There has to be a change to improve transparency and to improve the ‘value’ of local voices, when planning applications are considered. This does not mean that planning applications will grind to a halt; simply that the voice of the public has to be listened to; respected; and visibly given a higher importance than it appears to receive at present.
“Failure to make this change, I believe, will result in a deterioration of public confidence in the planning system.
“While I am not part of the planning process, I intend to lobby the Government Minister responsible to seek a better way forward for local communities.”
Councillor Russell Imrie (Lab), cabinet member for communities, said: “At its meeting of April 2, 2019, the planning committee considered two planning applications for residential development at Roslin.
“In its deliberations of the applications the committee considered the representations made by interested parties. However, it determined to grant permission on the basis that the sites were allocated for housing in its adopted local development plan and the proposals put forward were compatible with their setting and the local community. The developments will provide much needed housing, including affordable homes.”