Howgate housebuilders appeal over delay

Friday December 17th 2021

Controversial-housing-decision-delayed


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Delays on a decision for a new housing estate in the countryside have sparked an appeal to Scottish Ministers.

They are being asked to rule on controversial plans to build the homes on a former residential school after councillors delayed voting on the proposal by six weeks.

Midlothian Council’s planning committee decided against ruling on the bid for the Wellington School site, which lies between Peebles Road and the village of Howgate, after late papers meant they were unable to visit the site before a meeting on November 24.

But developers Lochay Homes have reacted to the hold-up, which would see them consider the application next month instead, by lodging an appeal with Scottish Ministers.

During November’s meeting officials told the committee the delay in producing the papers was down to a lack of “proof checking” before the agenda was sent to councillors the week before.

They said the application by Lochay Homes for detailed planning permission for 46 houses on the site should have been attached to the main pack when it was sent out.

However councillors were told: “The system we use showed the item in question as being included in part of it, unfortunately it wasn’t.

“Unfortunately when it was issued the document was not proof checked. It was a simple error, no reason for it.”

Objectors to the proposed new housing estate pointed out it would be almost as big as nearby Howgate itself and questioned the impact on electricity, water pressure and other services in the rural spot, south of Penicuik.

The Wellington Action Group said placing the new houses in ”the middle of nowhere” would create an “isolated commuter desert” which flew in the face of Scottish Government net zero targets.

It would also, they said, require an access road across part of Springfield Moss – a peat body.

However the developers argued the land is a brownfield site and the new estate would be made up of detached bungalows on a low to mid density site, which would integrate into the location.

In total 35 objections were submitted to the plans, which were recommended for approval by planning officers.

The Scottish Government Reporter is currently considering whether the appeal is valid.

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