Housing trust’s appeal for additional homes near Dalkeith

Midlothian Council Debating chamber at Midlothian House, where the local review body will meet tomorrow (Tuesday).
Midlothian Council Debating chamber at Midlothian House, where the local review body will meet tomorrow (Tuesday).

A housing charity has offered to manage the number of children allowed to live in a new affordable housing estate to ensure it does not exceed available school space.

Planning permission to build 25 new homes on a former steading on the outskirts of Dalkeith had already been given the go ahead by Midlothian Council when LAR asked to increase the number of houses to 44.

Planning officers rejected the additional housing saying the local authority could not provide education capacity for non-denominational primary school children if the site had more than 25 new homes.

However in a statement to go before the council’ Local Review Body this week LAR will argue that they can control how many children will be allowed to live in the houses.

They state: “LAR is able to manage its letting policy to ensure that school capacity thresholds are not exceeded.

“If required LAR is prepared to accept a condition on the planning permission to agree an approach to lettings which is acceptable to the council.”

The decision to reject the bid to increase the number of houses allowed on the site at Wester Cowden Farm was not just about school capacity.

Planning officers, LAR said, consider the layout of the additional housing to be poor, but they said they had looked at the ‘wrong plan’ ignoring the one the submitted as their actual proposal.

And they dismissed an argument that the development was not appropriate to the rural location pointing out permission for 25 houses had already been approved on the land.

LAR was established to build affordable housing across Scotland and said it has struggled to find suitable sites in Midlothian with just 24 of the 300 homes built to date in the county.

It said it was keen to work with the local authority and hopes the Wester Cowden site will contribute to its Midlothian sites.

It said one of the main reasons for refusing the extra housing had been the council’s concerns that demand for school places would go up from an estimated seven non-denominational and one denominational primary school child for 25 homes to 14  spaces for 44 homes, although it did not specify how many would be non denominational.

LAR said the additional number appeared ‘negligible’ and within any margin of error for school catchment places.

However it said: “Unlike private houses for sale, LAR could, if required by Midlothian Council, apply a constraint to their letting policy for this development to ensure that the number of primary school age children occupying the homes does not exceed the potentially available school capacity.”

It added that any agreement would be in place until additional primary school capacity became available.

The Local Review Body will decide the appeal on Tuesday.