Greenbelt victory

Wednesday February 5th 2020

Hardengreen-land

The land in Hardengreen adjacent to Eskbank Railway Station

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A bid to build houses on the greenbelt has been thrown out by the Scottish Government Reporter, despite his admission the land is “indistinct”.

Developers appealed to Scottish Ministers after Midlothian Council rejected their plans for a site off Dalhousie Road, Dalkeith.

The plans for over two hectares of land beside Hardengreen House, which is zoned for employment use, included a retail park and business units.

However, developers also added 20 new homes on part of the land which is designated as greenbelt, leading to the project being dismissed.

When it was put before councillors in June, they agreed with officers’ recommendations to refuse planning permission and the local authority’s development management manager Peter Arnsdorf told councillors he believed they would have a “very strong case” to win any challenge to their decision.

The Scottish Government Reporter agreed with council officers and refused an appeal against their decision, even though he acknowledged the greenbelt area involved was not in a good condition.

He said: “From my site inspection, it is clear the greenbelt boundary is indistinct, with only a post and wire fence in poor condition demarcating it from the allocated site.

“It does not in my view contribute to the greenbelt in any significant manner.”

He added he agreed with the developers that the area served no useful purpose and was subject to anti-social behaviour, with graffiti seen on an adjacent railway bridge; however, he said taking away its greenbelt status would have to be done by reviewing the council’s Local Development Plan, not a planning application.

Ruling in favour of the council, the Reporter said: “The proposed development does not accord with the relevant provisions of the development plan and there are no material considerations which would still justify granting planning permission.”

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