Councillors fighting to save an historic hospital from falling into ruin have set their own ‘red lines’ in a row over developers’ contributions.
The owners of Rosslynlee Hospital, which has lain empty in Roslin since 2010, want to develop the site and surrounding land by building nearly 400 homes on it as well as commercial property.
However, they have declined to pay the local authority the standard contributions needed for local investment insisting the money they will spend restoring the hospital buildings should be considered part of their payment.
At a meeting of Midlothian Council’s planning committee last week, red lines were drawn as councillors insisted the local authority should not have to subsidise the restoration with money which would have to be taken out of other communities. And they called for developers meet the full cost of expanding local schools to meet any future demand from families moving into their new homes.
Cllr John Hackett (Lab)said: “In effect we are asking every other resident of Midlothian to help fund the restoration of this building. Given it was the NHS, who owned the property, I would argue it should have been them. I think it would be adding insult to injury if we approved the application without appropriate contributions.”
Category-C listed Roslynlee Hospital closed in 2010 and was sold by the NHS to a private firm. They have three separate planning applications in with the council to build a mixture of housing on the site, adjoining fields and within the main buildings itself.
Considering all three together, Peter Arsdorf, the council’s planning manager, said the developers had offered to fund just 58 per cent of the expected contribution towards education required for a development of its size.
And he said while other developers were expected to make 25 per cent of houses affordable, this proposal offered less than 50 social housing units – eight to 11 per cent.
Recommending councillors refuse the application, Mr Arsdorf said: “The applicant’s position is that the cost of delivering the development is such that it is not appropriate to meet the developers contributions required in full and is as such dependent on the council, in effect, subsidising the development.
“Although there is significant benefit in seeing the restoration of the listed building, it is recommended that the benefit does not at this time outweigh the disbenefits of the scheme.”
However, committee convenor Cllr Russell Imrie (Lab) suggested a final attempt to negotiate with developers should be made with “red lines drawn”, adding: “We would love to get that building restored, it is how we do it. The council is saying we will support you as long as you meet the criteria.”
Councillor Stephen Curran (Lab) backed returning to developers, adding: “I think we need to set out the red lines, I am pretty clear on what they are, to me they are the education solution.”
The committee agreed to defer a decision to allowing planning officers to take their position back to developers.
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