A £2 million plan to open KFC and Starbucks drive-thru restaurants on the edge of Dalkeith has been given the go-ahead despite fears it will bring gridlock to the county.
An appeal to the Scottish Government has seen a decision by Midlothian councillors to throw out the proposals for Hardengreen overturned. The move has left council leader Derek Milligan furious as he called on local MSPs to step in to support the local authority.
Councillor Milligan (Lab), who had opposed the plans when they came to council last November, said local authority decisions seemed to make no difference as the Scottish Government overruled them time after time.
Speaking following the reporter’s decision, Mr Milligan said it felt like any decision taken by councillors was overturned by Scottish Ministers.
He said: “Every single time we refuse something in this authority we are being over ruled. The kidology that it is civil servants making these decisions is just that, kidology. Scottish Ministers have the power here.”
At a planning committee meeting in November Councillor Milligan said the new drive-thrus would bring the county to a standstill.
He said the entrance to the site at Eskbank roundabout was already used to access Scotland’s biggest Tesco store.
And he warned that adding further traffic to the roundabout which would also service the new McDonalds could create “gridlock” which would affect the entire county.
The planning committee refused the application for the two drive-thrus on the grounds of road safety and the potential negative impact on Dalkeith and Bonnyrigg town centres. Following the reporter’s ruling this week Cllr Milligan said councillors’ concerns had proved founded with “major traffic problems at the site already” following the opening of the 24/7 McDonalds. And he added they were now dealing with antisocial behaviour issues at Hardengreen.
Cllr Milligan called on local residents to put pressure on their MSPs to challenge the Scottish Government over planning decisions. He said: “The public need to ask our MSPs why they are continually criticising councils while at the same time part of a Government which is overruling councils time after time.”
Making his decision this week, the reporter said: “From the evidence before me the proposed drive-thru restaurants would not undermine the vibrancy, viability and vitality of Dalkeith and Eskbank town centres and would not threaten the safe and effective operation of the Tesco arm of the Eskbank roundabout.”
He supported 14 conditions put forward by the council’s planning officers including a contribution from developers towards encouraging safe cycle and pedestrian routes within the A7 corridor.
SC Dalkeith Ltd who are behind the application, had earlier said they anticipate the new development would create 55 retail jobs locally.