Hundreds of houses approved despite safety fear

Wednesday January 12th 2022


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A further 221 homes have been given the go ahead at a housing development in Penicuik despite claims families were left with no safe school path for 15 months.

Frustration at delays to a new safe route to school path for primary school children in the Greenlaw Mains development were voiced as councillors were asked to approve hundreds more homes on the site.

Councillor Debbi McCall said some families who had moved into earlier phases of the estate had been forced to walk along a busy main road to primary school for more than a year.

And the council’s planning chief Peter Arnsdorf pledged to investigate the claims after saying no family should move into a new house until a safe school route was in place.

Councillors were asked to approve the additional housing for Taylor Wimpey who are developing phase four and five of a larger housing development which has been undergoing construction in recent years.

The latest phase, between Mauricewood Road and Belwood Road has seven more houses than originally approved several years ago – and includes only three affordable homes out of 221.

However Mr Arnsdorf told the planning committee that earlier phases in the large estate which has a mix of developers, had met the required 25% affordable housing allowing for only a handful to be built in the latest phase.

Councillor McCall said she had been frustrated by the fact the local primary was not accessible to families who had already moved into the estate through a safe path.

She said: “Mauricewood Primary has one of the highest rates of children walking to school however the people who have moved into the estates further up have not been able to do that and have to walk down Mauricewood Road and some of these people moved into properties in December 2020.

“It is a disgrace, when we pass these things and say they have to have a safe walk to school routes.

“It is really frustrating when we have people who moved in 15 months ago and cannot walk to school, walking down Mauricewood Road is not a safe route to school.”

Her view was backed by fellow members of the planning committee with Councillor Colin Cassidy saying: “Surely we have a condition we can impose on builders that there is a safe route to school? These are essential.”

Mr Arnsdorf told the committee he would investigate the situation with the estate.

He said: “I am disappointed in that there should be a safe route to school from day one for people moving in.”

Update 12/01/2022 17:45

Taylor Wimpey were asked for comment. They said that its previous phases in the development did include safer routes to school although it could not comment on other developers.

A spokepserson said: “We are pleased to have received planning consent for our next phase of new homes at Greenlaw Mill in Penicuik, and we will ensure this includes a safe route to Mauricewood Primary from the outset of this phase of the development.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that all past and current phases of our development at Greenlaw Mill have provided a safe route to the local primary school, and we are unable to provide any details about safer routes to school from the wider area of new homes delivered by other developers.

“Furthermore, we would like to clarify that all approvals are obtained from Midlothian Council prior to any works starting.”

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