Wednesday February 5th 2020
Written by Marie Sharp, Local Democracy Reporter
A housing developer sparked anger after he chopped down trees on a former school site before receiving planning permission.
Residents in the conservation village of Lasswade were stunned when woodland began to be cleared at the site on Monday, January 27.
And when Midlothian Council planners contacted the developer to point out they had not yet approved the plans and demand they stop, they continued clearing the land.
Planning permission was officially granted for eight houses to be built on the site on Thursday, January 30, but included a condition that no work could begin until a detailed landscape plan had been submitted and approved by officers.
However, in an additional report lodged with the planning application documents, a planning officer confirmed all the trees on the site had been felled.
It said: “The applicant took ownership of the site on Monday, January 27, and commenced tree works immediately, prior to planning permission being issued.
“The case officer emailed the applicant on Monday, January 27, advised him that permission had not been granted and that no work should be carried out without the appropriate authorisation from the planning authority.
“The applicant did not stop the tree felling and by the evening of Wednesday, January 29, all of the trees had been felled.”
Planners only became aware of the trees being cut down when a local resident contacted them asking if the developers had permission.
Social media saw dozens of comments from local residents stunned to see the plans going ahead.
A previous application for nine houses on the site had been rejected by Midlothian Council and the Scottish Government Reporter.
The revised plans, however, did get the go-ahead and the land, which lies behind the Laird and Dog pub on School Green and was mainly owned by the local authority, sold to the developers.
Former Midlothian councillor Ian Baxter urged residents to get in touch with local councillors and demand the application be ‘called in’, which would mean a decision was made by elected councillors rather than council officers.
He said: “I’d be very surprised if councillors would support any proposals to build on that land.”
One local resident took to Facebook to announce she had resigned from Lasswade Civic Society Committee because of the planning decision.
Another said: “I always thought Midlothian was like loads of wee country villages and now it’s all becoming a town. No greenbelt, no wildlife, just fumes and concrete.”
In the planning statement issued on behalf of Dimension Homes Ltd to Midlothian Council , agents said the planned housing had been revised and redesigned in the wake of comments from the Scottish Government Reporter.
And they reiterated plans to plant across part of the site to retain “the woodland backdrop”.Tweet Share on Facebook