Bid for houses on public park land step too far for councillors

Tuesday March 5th 2024

dolphingston

[photoS_c cap=”Land behind the Doocot at Dolphingston will remain open space.”]


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Plans to build up to 150 homes on land earmarked for a public park were described as ‘too much icing on a cake’ as they were rejected by councillors.

East Lothian Developments Ltd (ELDL), which has overseen plans to develop land to on the outskirts of Wallyford in the county, were told enough was enough as it revised its masterplan to propose the housing on 11 acres which were set to be open space.

A meeting of East Lothian Council’s planning committee today heard claims by the developers that there was enough amenity land and green spaces across the larger site to compensate for using part of the site to the south east of the larger housing estate for additional homes.

And they warned councillors that leaving the land unused could lead to it becoming “unloved” and attracting motorbike use at weekends.

However councillors rejected their claims with a number of committee members, who were involved in the original masterplan for the site 15 years ago, recalling it had promised the new community a large public park on the land.

And the council’s head of planning Keith Dingwall reassured councillors conditions in the original masterplans included introducing cycle paths, walkways and benches on the remaining undeveloped land for a future park.

The land at Dolphingstone, to the west of Musselburgh, is part of a major development which has seen over 2,000 new houses approved along with a new secondary school and primary school, new sports pitches and amenity parks.

Original plans for the overall site included proposals for just over 1,000 homes but that figure doubled as revised applications were submitted and approved over the years.

Jonathan Brindle, from ELDL, told a meeting of the planning committee today that the masterplan for the site had never been about ‘cramming as many houses as possible from west to east” on it but had included open spaces and amenity.

He said during the development of the site they had learned the negative impact that could come from having open spaces left.

He said: “One of the downsides of an unloved open space is that when it does not have a clear purpose it ended up being used by motorbikes at the weekend to the detriment of the community.”

Local ward councillor Colin McGinn said he was concerned by the proposal which was described by developers as the ‘final phase’ of the overall site.

He said: “One of the things constituents bring to me is the need for open space to play or walk or just be in an area not overtaken by housing.

“I feel this (application) is pushing it too far.”

Councillors praised the work carried out on the larger development by ELDL working with the community and local authority over the years.

However Councillor Andy Forrest told them the latest proposal was too much.

He said: “It will be too much icing on the cake and will spoil it.”

Planning convenor Councillor Norman Hampshire said he recalled when the original masterplan was drawn up including the public park on the site.

He said: “The ELDL original proposal to create a public park was the right proposals and the proposal we have today with 150 houses is just wrong.”

Councillors unanimously backed officers recommendations to refuse planning permission for additional houses on the site.

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