Animal heroes attending Midlothian conference

Roslin Institute

The Roslin Institute, in Midlothian.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Real life animal heroes will be attending a two-day international conference to promote the importance of compassion in Midlothian next weekend.

East Lothian based humane education charity Fostering Compassion is holding its first conference at the Roslin Institute, in Midlothian, with hundreds of people expected to take part and speakers travelling from around the world.

And one of the highlights of the weekend events will be the chance to meet animal heroes from rescue services to support and therapy pets at a meet and greet.

The Compassion Always event, which is being held on Saturday October 7th and Sunday October 8th, marks Fostering Compassion’s tenth anniversary and is part of The Dick Vet’s bicentennial celebrations this year.

Among speakers are Mike Arms, presidents of the Helen Woodward Animal Center, from Santa Fe, California, and Zhenya Dove, an activist and volunteer from Ukraine who is based in Edinburgh.

Zhenya has been working with various Ukrainian, Scottish and international charities, including Danish Animal Protection, and is the organiser of the War Through Children’s Eyes photo exhibition and Unbroken cultural event.

As well as covering issues of the importance of compassion in everyday life and humane education, issues such as how to deal with compassion fatigue will be covered.

And attendees will hear from rescue services about the work they carry out and animals in their service.

Fostering Compassion which was set up in 2013 by Tranent woman Lesley Winton BEM, runs workshops at its Ormiston base and in schools to help children and young people tap into their empathy and emotions by talking about the experiences of rescue animals and relating it to how they feel.

The work has proved extremely successful in helping children identified as struggling with behaviour or emotional issues.

Lesley, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for Services to Animal Welfare, said she was excited about the conference and the very special animal hero guests coming along.

She said: “The conference is a big event for us as it marks Fostering Compassion’s 10th year of working with children and animals and bring a lot of our supporters and partners together.

“There will also be a very special Animal Heroes segment where delegates can learn about the work of search and rescue dogs at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks in the USA, and our very own Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will speak about animal rescues they have carried out.

“And they will have the opportunity to meet many other animal heroes providing support, assistance and therapy to humans.”

The Dick Vet is marking 200 years of veterinary teaching this year with a series of live events and as part of its celebrations has provided the charity with the venue for free.

The charity is offering free tickets to all students throughout the conference with ticket prices for other attendees ranging from £10 a day to £15 for the weekend with lunch and refreshments included..

Tickets for the two day conference and full details of the line-up can be found on the Fostering Compassion website at

57 social rented homes completed at Midlothian development

Drone shot of Cala affordable site

Drone shot of the Penicuik development.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

A major development providing 57 homes for social rent in Penicuik has been completed, following a partnership between housebuilder Cala Homes (East) and Wheatley Group.

The collection of affordable homes includes 16 cottage flats, 13 terraced homes and 28 apartments and forms a key element of the Mauricewood masterplan that is bringing more than 500 homes to the northern edge of the Midlothian town.

To mark the completion of the homes, Cala and Wheatley Group hosted Minister for Housing Paul McLennan and local Provost Debbi McCall for a tour around the wider development.

Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: “The right to a warm, safe and affordable home is critical to wellbeing and is a right everyone deserves. Wheatley Group, working with key partners such as Cala Homes, plays a significant role in increasing the range of housing available to rent throughout Scotland.

“The Scottish Government has supported this new build development with over £3.9 million. This has enabled Wheatley Group working with Cala to deliver 57 high quality energy-efficient affordable homes here in Penicuik.

“High quality housing is a key pillar of Housing to 2040, whilst also eradicating fuel poverty and homelessness and ensuring everyone has access to green space and essential services. I welcome the opportunity to see for myself these much needed, newly completed affordable homes in Midlothian.”

The homes were built to high specifications by the developer before being handed over to Wheatley Group. The homes will be managed by Wheatley Homes East, part of Wheatley Group.

As a result, each property is energy efficient, achieving a minimum EPC rating of B as well as provision of electric vehicle charging provision.

Wheatley Homes East tenant Emma Hopton, who moved into her new two-bedroom home in May, said: “It’s beautiful, and it’s in such a lovely area. It’s roomy and so nice and bright, which gives it a real feel of home.

“The property has solar panels and it’ll be good to see what difference those make with the colder weather coming. I love the house and my favourite thing has to be the view. It’s great being able to drive down the road and see the Pentlands.”

Craig Lynes, Managing Director for Cala Homes (East), said: “We are delighted to see this development come to life which sits within a well-connected and peaceful environment, and to see the new residents call these properties their homes. Cala and Wheatley have worked hard on this project for the past two and a half years – from planning right through to the final handover.

“Our collective focus was delivering high quality, tenure-blind social rented accommodation and we are delighted this has been achieved.

“It is our fifth joint project to be completed with Wheatley Group and we are committed to delivering more affordable homes in the local area and beyond.

“Wheatley Group has been a great partner and credit must go to all those involved in the project for their commitment to deliver what is a significant scale for this area. From the outset to the final completion, the whole experience has been a positive one.”

The delivery of the homes provides a timely boost to supply as demand for homes continues to surge in the region and will mark a significant contribution to Midlothian Council’s commitment to building 1,000 new affordable houses in the region.

Provost Debbi McCall, said: “Cala and Wheatley Group have done a terrific job in capturing the essence and spirit of community, and we hope these homes will develop into tight-knit social hubs that reflect the people who live here.”

Following the visit, Midlothian South MSP Christine Grahame commented on the completion of the homes for social rent: “Good quality housing is key to solving many social problems. If you offer someone a safe, secure, comfortable home, you provide them with a foundation to succeed in other areas of life.

“Given the high demand for housing in Midlothian, the completion of this development of quality homes for social rent is very welcome.”

It is the second project that Cala has completed in 2023 with Wheatley Group in the east of Scotland region, after handing over 14 affordable homes in Linlithgow at the turn of the year.

Steven Henderson, Wheatley Group Chief Executive, said: “Working with our partners at Cala, Scottish Government and Midlothian Council, we are able to build these much-needed affordable homes and breathe new life into the community.

“We are delighted to see the positive impact these high-quality, energy efficient homes have already had on the local area and we’re sure our tenants will enjoy living there for many years to come.”

Recent years have seen Cala Homes invest heavily into the wider Midlothian community. A report by economic consultancy, Lichfields, estimates that Cala’s work will result in a £15.7 million boost in new infrastructure, such as schools and leisure facilities across the county, as well as an estimated £15.6m boost to the local economy with the creation of more than 290 jobs.

Midlothian ‘Country’ house description challenged by councillors

Barley Dean Rosewell

Illustrative Visualisation 1 of the proposed development viewed from within the site, image courtesy of Ferguson Planning.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Claims new houses planned for a former fly-tipping site in Midlothian were too ‘suburban’ for the countryside were dismissed by councillors because they will be hidden from view.

Plans to build five detached homes at land near Highwood House, Barleydean, Rosewell, were refused by Midlothian Council’s planners after they said they did not meet rural standards.

But a meeting of the council’s Local Review Body this week upheld an appeal by the applicant, after councillors questioned what a ‘country-style’ house looked like and pointed out the only people who would look onto the new homes would be their new owners.

The proposals for the houses were on land which has in the past been used by fly tippers and is set off the main road, behind trees, and accessed via a single lane.

Councillor Derek Milligan told the meeting the proposed site for the new housing was in a ‘dip’ and would not be visible from the main road.

Mr Milligan said: “It is going to be a small grouping of houses which are looking onto each other so, effectively, if you took one of the houses you are going to know what you are going to be looking at.”

Councillor Colin Cassidy agreed saying: “The only people who are going to be offended are the people living there because no-one else can see it.”

And fellow review body member Councillor David Virgo questioned the suggestion by planning officers that the houses were not rural enough in design.

He said: “Unless there is something prescriptive saying what is a countryside look and what is a suburban look, I think it is completely subjective and find it hard to refuse something on that basis.”

Planners had initially rejected the plans, which received three objections and ten letters of support, saying the new houses were large with ‘unusual proportions’ which were ‘neither traditional rural or contemporary design’.

Refusing permission officers said: “Four of the houses have integral garages which is not a traditional feature for rural houses. Three of the four houses have large projecting sections to the front and rear of the houses which add to the scale and mass of the buildings.

“The remaining two houses have a suburban appearance which would not be out of place in a large housing development.

“Overall the proposed layout and houses result in a very suburban proposal which does not respect the rural nature of the site, surrounding land or special landscape area.”

The appeal was upheld by the review body unanimously and planning permission granted.

The Determination Report presented to the Local Review Body can be read HERE.