Batty planning decision overturned

Wednesday March 13th 2019

Cousland village, Midlothian

Cousland village, Midlothian

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A decision to throw out a planning application to build a luxury house because bats roost near the site has been overturned by Scottish Ministers.

Developers wanted to build the large four-bedroom house on the edge of the village of Cousland, Midlothian, but planners rejected the scheme.

They objected to the size of the new property, which was to be built on land beside an even larger mansion-style home, and warned that it would put a bats’ roost at risk.

During a meeting of Midlothian’s planning committee in November, calls for the plans to be approved lost out by seven votes to six after Councillor Debbi McCall urged members to refuse permission “for the bats”.

However, following an appeal, a Scottish Reporter has ruled that the development would not impact on what he described as a “non-breeding summer roost”.

He said: “I have considered the results of the bat survey reports that have been submitted. There is only a very limited use of the trees at the appeal site by bats, such that it has very limited conservation status for the observed species.”

The planning application was considered by councillors in November alongside another one to build three slightly smaller detached houses on the same site and both were rejected for the same reason.

The Reporter ruling only applies to the plans for the largest house, an appeal over the refusal of the other three is being considered separately.

Council officers also objected that the house was too big and outwith the character of the village where most houses were no more than one and a half storeys high.

It is being built on land next to Airybank House – a large £950,000 property, which was built in 2004.

During the planning committee meeting in November Councillor Peter Smail, Provost, told the planning committee that having allowed Airybank to be built it was too late to ban neighbouring properties for being too large.

He said: “The original mistake was to allow Airybank House which is very large”.

Urging fellow councillors to approve the planning application he described suggestions that only small houses could be built around it as creating a “mother hen and her chicks” aesthetic.

He was backed by planning convenor Councillor Russell Imrie, however Councillor McCall’s motion to refuse permission “for the bats” was upheld.

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