Coach and Horses driven dangerously through Midlothian Local Plan

Monday July 15th 2019

Midlothian Kippielaw

The Save Kippielaw Organisation have written an open letter to Midlothian Councillors.

Dear Councillors,

The local community is extremely disappointed to discover that Council officers have taken it upon themselves to approach the local landowner proposing a deal which would result in a new primary school for Dalkeith built at Kippielaw/Easthouses with 500 new houses allegedly as a “pay back” to the landowner for allowing the Council to secure the site for the school and despite alternatives being available in Dalkeith itself.

As recently as the 2017 Local Plan, development of these lands was unanimously rejected by all 18 Midlothian Councillors. This land is zoned as Countryside and the local community want it to remain as Countryside.

It is currently highly productive prime agricultural land.

The 2017 Local Plan received 2100 comments from residents in the whole of Midlothian. More than 1300 of these comments were objections to development of the Kippielaw site. At that time our Councillors respected the wishes of the community and local democracy prevailed over developer greed.

Now Council officers are attempting to subvert this decision. They are proposing to use the provision of a new primary school for Dalkeith as a “Trojan Horse” with the purpose of overturning the Local Plan aswell as numerous planning policies which are designed to prevent development in the Countryside.

Why they are doing this is not yet clear, but we believe that it involves huge sums in developer contributions being offered in return for planning permission to build on a 50 acre site at Kippielaw.

This would drive a coach and horses through the Midlothian Local Plan and make a mockery of local democracy.

The Local Plan is an agreement between Midlothian Council and the Community it serves. Developments such as this would be a fundamental breach of that agreement. A breach of Trust.

Previously the local communities, supported by elected Councillors, have prevented the coalescence of the separate communities of Dalkeith and Easthouses/Mayfield to avoid the creation of a continuous housing scheme from the centre of Dalkeith to the top of Mayfield. The communities of Woodburn, Kippielaw, Easthouses and Mayfield would all lose their separate identities if the proposed school and associated housing was built at Kippielaw. Historically, Midlothian Council has been opposed in principle to homogenization of communities by maintaining green space between developments.

There is no need for a new primary school to be located at Kippielaw. If Mayfield and Easthouses require additional school capacity then the proposed school at Easthouses can easily be increased from 2 stream to 3 stream. If Dalkeith really requires additional school capacity then the previously preferred site of the old Dalkeith High School should be used. That is a brownfield site and would not result in the destruction of 50 acres of Countryside in a short term cashflow deal.

You are our elected representatives and it is alarming to see that the policies you have made are being ridden over roughshod by your officers.

Yours faithfully,

The Save Kippielaw Organisation

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