Council flats approved

Wednesday January 16th 2019

Council Flats Approved

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Residents living next to land approved for council flats face a legal fight to continue to use their own driveways – just months after one family returned home to find they had been shut out.

Midlothian Council’s planning officers have given the go ahead to plans to build flats on a former garage lock-up site owned by the local authority in Bilston despite objections from local residents.

Residents pointed out the new development would block access to two driveways in current use, remove a right of access in place for more than 20 years, and take away off-street parking for other residents.

However, officers for the local authority dismissed their claims saying “rights of access to driveways (either existing or aspirational) is a private legal matter between the parties involved and is not a material planning consideration”

One family told how they returned from holiday last year to find their father’s driveway, which opened onto the site, had had its gates removed and a 6ft fence put up across it, months before any plans to build on the land were even approved.

Writing to object to the planning application, the family member said: “I phoned Midlothian Council on March 19, I asked did the council put the new fence up, they said no, as my father owned his property that wouldn’t happen.

“I asked the neighbours, they didn’t know who did it…the fact is this has been a right of way for over 20 years. We feel this will devalue my father’s property.”

The family added they have since reinstalled gates on the driveway and are seeking legal advice.

The new flats are being built on the land which stretches between Castlelaw Crescent and Moorfoot View in the village by Glasgow housing developers Mears Group.

The local community council also objected to the plans amid concern there would be sufficient water supply for the additional housing.

A spokesperson for Midlothian Council confirmed the housing would be owned by the local authority.

“We can confirm that eight homes for council housing are being built at this site by the contractor Mears. This housing is expected to be completed in 2020.”

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