Plea for change in housing strategy post Covid to allow countryside home near Penicuik

The Covid pandemic has shown a need for new homes to be built in the countryside, a landowner is claiming in a bid to build a four-bedroom house on a horse paddock.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 2:49 pm
The site of the proposed home, on land near Meyerling, Penicuik.

Agents for applicant Tony Pia say his plans for a new home on land near Meyerling, Penicuik, should be approved despite being in the countryside on land not identified for housing.

And they say that despite planning applications for adjoining land being refused several times over recent years, this time it is different.

In a statement to Midlothian planners they said: “There are many positive reasons for locating within the countryside, and there are likewise negative reasons for locating within existing built-up areas.

Plans for the home proposed on land near Meyerling, Penicuik.

“This has become very evident during the Covid 19 pandemic. Health and well-being, level of amenity, and access to the outdoors, makes a fundamental contribution to our health and well-being, while at the same time helping to connect people with the land and broaden understanding of issues relating to land use.”

The planning application is for a four-bedroom farmhouse with an additional second building which will house a garage and laundry as well as a home office.

The agents acknowledge that council policy is against new homes being built in the countryside with few exceptions but argues that the rules should not constrain opportunities to create housing. They said: “One of the most significant changes in rural areas has been a rise in the number of people wishing to live in the accessible parts of the countryside while continuing to commute to work in towns and cities.

“Also, an issue which has become part of the new way of working, during and post-Covid 19 pandemic, is the desire and ability to work from home. This is no more apparent than in the council’s own workforce who have been able to continue working from home. Driving to work has become far less necessary.

“Likewise, online shopping has become much more prevalent, and the need to drive to the supermarket has decreased significantly.

“We should design the properties to be attractive and functional for those who want to live and work in the countryside, and to allow for effective home working.”

The plans have been published online for comment.