Green belt appeal goes to Reporter

Thursday November 14th 2019


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A bid to build houses on the green belt has been taken to Scottish Ministers after it was thrown out by Midlothian councillors.

The proposed site off Dalhousie Road, Dalkeith, covers over 2 hectares of land beside Hardengreen House and would see a retail park and business units built.

However when it was put before councillors in June, they agreed with officers’ recommendations to refuse it because it also included 20 residential homes, on land classed as green belt.

Now developers have lodged an appeal with the Scottish Reporter despite Midlothian Council’s development management manager Peter Arnsdorf telling councillors he believed they would have a “very strong case” to win any challenge to their decision.

The plans, lodged by Hardengreen Estates Ltd, would see the vacant land, which lies south of the Eskbank Station park and ride and solar panel farm, transformed.

Entrance to the retail park would come by expanding to road to the park and ride while a new road for the housing would be created.

Planners had no issue with the business and retail plans which take up two-thirds of the land, which has already been earmarked for economic use in Midlothian’s Local Development Plan.

However the housing would encroach onto green belt land and they have already identified enough land for housing across the county.

At a meeting of the planning committee in June councillors agreed to refuse planning permission with Provost Peter Smaill telling the chamber: “Any development that attempts through the planning system to build on the green belt will not have my support.”

Councillor Colin Cassidy asked Mr Arnsdorf what chance there would be, if they refused planning permission, of it being overturned.

He said: ““If we reject this what are the chances that the Reporter is going to come back and overturn this because in the report I note that it says the green belt is not what you would call top class green belt, it is kind of industrial which has grown over from the old railway.”

Mr Arnsdorf said that while the land was not ‘prime’ green belt, it remained classed as that on the Local Development Plan.

And he said that while he did not have a “crystal ball” when it came to predicting the outcome of an appeal: “I think we have a very strong case to win this if it goes to appeal.”

The Reporter has asked for submissions and is expected to make a site visit.

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