Grumbles fail to stop local plan approval

SNP group leader Kelly Parry and Labour group leader Derek Milligan.
SNP group leader Kelly Parry and Labour group leader Derek Milligan.

Councillors have approved the Local Development Plan despite fears a lack of infrastructure will not cope with increased house building.

At the recent full council meeting concerns were raised about the lack of GPs and practices in Midlothian and that the rising population in Scotland’s fastest growing local authority area will make matters worse, with Cllr Russell Imrie (Lab) slating the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian for a “lack of joined up thinking”.

SNP group leader Kelly Parry agreed with Cllr Imrie on infrastructure but added: “ I don’t think criticising GPs and the Scottish Government is the way forward.”

Council leader Derek Milligan (Lab) said nobody was “having a go” at GPs and blamed the Scottish Government and the NHS for a “massive mismanagement of workforce planning”.

Cllr Milligan again called on the Sheriffhall Roundabout redevelopment to be brought forward to tackle growing local traffic issues and demanded more carriages on trains on the Borders Railway and improved bus services for Midlothian. He finished by saying: “We have accepted these houses. The Scottish Government has to step up to the mark as well, and make sure we have the infrastructure that they are responsible for.”

Remarking on Transport Scotland’s decision to block plans for a train station at Redheugh near Gorebridge, Cllr Imrie added: “It’s got to be a two way street, we ask and we don’t get, they say no all the time. How can we move Midlothian forward?”

Councillor Andrew Hardie (Con) was disappointed that proposals for a rail link to Penicuik are not in the plan, adding “that should be on the table”.

He said: “With the amount of housing coming to Midlothian that land will no doubt be built on and that future transport link to Penicuik would be off the table completely.”

The council’s planning officer told councillors that it “doesn’t necessarily have to be the end” of this proposal. Adding: “It’s really up to members if they want to resuscitate it, to look again at what other options there are.”

Councillors asked for a report into this potential rail link.

A total of 838 representations and 2,770 separate comments were received on the Proposed Midlothian Local Development Plan, following its publication in May 2015. These representations were considered by the Council in May 2016, with unresolved issues subsequently examined by a Reporter appointed by the Scottish Government in November last year.

Overall, the Reporter’s recommendations do not fundamentally alter the Council’s position, and support the view that it has a sufficient supply of land for housing, with no new allocations planned over and above those identified in the Proposed Plan.

The Midlothian Local Development Plan will be published within the next few weeks.