‘We have lost all of our green space’

Loanhead Community Council chairman  Pat Kenny at one of the construction sites in Loanhead
Loanhead Community Council chairman Pat Kenny at one of the construction sites in Loanhead

Loanhead Community Council is urging Midlothian Council’s planning department to put the local community ahead of housebuilders.

Speaking at the group’s meeting last week, chairman Pat Kenny revealed his frustrations at the lack of social and affordable homes on new estates at Straiton. However, Midlothian Council has said that the community council was consulted on these plans.

Mr Kenny said: “We have got a situation on our doorstep where we have Taylor Wimpey building 115 houses with no affordable or social housing. We have got CALA going to build in excess of 90 houses with no affordable housing or social housing.

“In a few months time we will get Stewart Milne on land adjacent with 90 plus houses, again with no affordable or social housing.

“The council’s head of planning Ian Johnson told me that some of these decisions were taken with no elected members present.

“For some reason the planning department has bent over backwards to save them on costs.

“All this has been done with changes to plans without amendments made public so we could discuss it. It’s not a normal way to do things. I’m not happy. I have asked the questions but I’m not getting any answers.

“I’m now speaking to our MP and MSP, because as I say developers are making lots of money out of Loanhead.

“Obviously there are developer contributions but our planning department doesn’t have the local community at heart.

“We have lost all our green space and amenities.

“There will be 88 houses built on the Paradykes school site with no affordable or social houses. It’s more green space we have lost.

“We can’t stop what has been done. But maybe stop this happening more in Loanhead. It has bothered me for some time. I find it strange that the planning department can come to major decisions without elected members present.

“When we ask the councillors for this ward they don’t seem to know why. We seem to be wasting our time.

“There is very little green space, but they keep saying they are providing more than they have to per the legislation. I’m trying to get these developers to give contributions for the Ramsay Bing site so we can develop green space.

“It’s all gains for the developer and no gains for the community.

“It’s just not right that people in this area are bullied into this situation, which is just not the norm. Planning should have the best interest of the community at heart. Not helping the developers make more money.”

Fellow community council member and former Midlothian councillor Jackie Aitchison questioned the action of local councillors, he added: “Why are they not responding to this question?

“They are up for re-election next year but none of the Midlothain West councillors have given us an answer.

“I will have to do some thinking when it comes to voting next year.”

A Midlothian Council spokesperson said: “The original decision to support residential development was taken by the planning committee in 2010. Subsequent negotiations with the developer secured the delivery of the distributor road, which was the priority for the local community and the council.

“To deliver the road the council had to make compromises with regard the affordable housing provision. Throughout the development process the council kept the community council up to date with progress.”