Midlothian Council’s planning officers have given the go-ahead to plans to build flats on a former garage lock-up site, owned by the local authority in Bilston, despite objections from residents.
Locals pointed out the new development would block access to two driveways in current use, remove a right of access in place for more than 20 years, and take away off-street parking for other residents.
However, officers for the local authority dismissed their claims saying “rights of access to driveways is a private legal matter between the parties involved and is not a material planning consideration”.
One family told how they returned from holiday last year to find their father’s driveway, which opened onto the site, had had its gates removed and a 6ft fence put up across it, months before any plans to build on the land were even approved.
Writing to object to the planning application, the family member said: “I phoned Midlothian Council on March 19. I asked did the council put the new fence up, they said no, as my father owned his property that wouldn’t happen.
“I asked the neighbours. They didn’t know who did it…the fact is this has been a right of way for over 20 years. We feel this will devalue my father’s property.”
The family added they have since reinstalled gates on the driveway and are seeking legal advice.
The eight new council flats are being built on the land, which stretches between Castlelaw Crescent and Moorfoot View in the village, by Mears Group.
The local community council also objected to the plans amid concern there would be sufficient water supply for the additional housing.
A spokesperson for Midlothian Council confirmed the housing would be owned by the local authority.
She said: “We can confirm that eight homes for council housing are being built at this site by the contractor Mears. This housing is expected to be completed in 2020.”