Green councillor asks Scottish Government to call in controversial hotel development

Tuesday September 1st 2015

Pentland Hills Hotel

Midlothian Green councillor Ian Baxter has written to Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights, asking him to ‘call in’ the application to build a hotel and holiday chalets at Calderstones, Hillend, approved by the council’s Planning committee last week.

Citing the fact that the location is in the Pentlands Regional Park, an area of significant national interest, and that other less sensitive sites have not been considered, he believes the Scottish Government should look closely at how the council arrived at its decision and hopes that in doing so it will overturn the decision.

Cllr Baxter said, “I am not against hotel development as such, but this site is very sensitive, being in an elevated position, containing a large number of mature trees and located within the Regional Park itself. There are two sites close by which already have planning permission for hotels, in far less sensitive areas, but which have not been progressed for several years. If there is the demand for a hotel at Hillend as some say, why have those plots remained undeveloped?”

He continued, “The Snowsports Centre is well served by public transport from the city centre and any additional need for overnight accommodation close by could be fulfilled by a hotel at the Bush, which could be used as a conference venue”.

Judging by the high level of interest in the article last week in Midlothian View, Hotel given planning approval in Pentland Hills, lots of people in Midlothian are interested to see how this planning application proceeds.

Midlothian View asked local policticians for comment. Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said “This decision by Midlothian Council is deeply disappointing. Allowing woodland to be replaced by a three storey hotel and holiday chalets makes little sense. I’m not aware of any demand for such a hotel, and previous applications in the area have come to nothing. Sacrificing trees and greenspace simply demonstrates how out of date Midlothian’s approach is. We need more local councillors like Ian Baxter who are prepared to challenge such decisions.”

MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said “While planning decisions fall under the Council’s remit, I would strongly hope that they have taken into account any negative impact this construction will have on the environment. Our green belt is under increasing pressure and I absolutely do not favour any further encroachment on this dwindling, necessary resource.”

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