New houses next to Cockpen Church approved

Friday May 17th 2019

New houses next to Cockpen Church

The site of the new houses next to the Bonnyrigg Distributor Road and Cockpen Church

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Plans to build 320 new homes have been given the go ahead despite concerns about their impact on an historic country church.

Midlothian Council approved two planning applications for land to the east of Bonnyrigg at Dalhousie South, which had been allocated for housing in its Local Development Plan.

However a report to council revealed concern had been raised by the local community council about the impact on Cockpen Church which lies next to the site as well as historic Newbattle Abbey and Dalhousie Castle.

Bonnyrigg Community Council said the new housing would “endanger all three historic sites”.

And Historic Environment Scotland asked that the housing plan was redesigned to ensure it did not impact on the view of the church tower.

The historic body said the Tudor-Gothic church was designed by noted architect Archibald Elliot and its conspicuous tower raised so it could be seen from both Dalhousie Castle and Arniston House, the home of the Lord Chief Baron, in the 19th century.

Councillor Derek Milligan, council leader, told this week’s planning committee that while he had opposed the inclusion of the land proposed for the two housing applications on the local plan it had been added and refusing planning permission would only risk an appeal to the Scottish Government.

He said: “It is my intention to support this application reluctantly”.

Mr Milligan described the council’s planning officer’s description of Cockpen Church’s cemetery as popular as “bizarre” after they said the cemetery would be full in 11 years and that “there is the need to plan for a future extension because of the popularity of the site.”

Mr Milligan told the committee: “I find the wording quite bizarre, a popular place to go? I’m not sure that is quite the right wording.

“However it is filling up at a rate and I think we need to try and work with the developer to release a part of the land to see of we can extend the cemetery.”

The committee granted detailed planning permission to Grange Estates for 247 houses at the site.

A second application from Grange Estates for approval to build a further 73 affordable houses on the site in principal was also give the go ahead.

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