Midlothian ‘Country’ house description challenged by councillors

Tuesday September 26th 2023

Barley Dean Rosewell

Illustrative Visualisation 1 of the proposed development viewed from within the site, image courtesy of Ferguson Planning.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Claims new houses planned for a former fly-tipping site in Midlothian were too ‘suburban’ for the countryside were dismissed by councillors because they will be hidden from view.

Plans to build five detached homes at land near Highwood House, Barleydean, Rosewell, were refused by Midlothian Council’s planners after they said they did not meet rural standards.

But a meeting of the council’s Local Review Body this week upheld an appeal by the applicant, after councillors questioned what a ‘country-style’ house looked like and pointed out the only people who would look onto the new homes would be their new owners.

The proposals for the houses were on land which has in the past been used by fly tippers and is set off the main road, behind trees, and accessed via a single lane.

Councillor Derek Milligan told the meeting the proposed site for the new housing was in a ‘dip’ and would not be visible from the main road.

Mr Milligan said: “It is going to be a small grouping of houses which are looking onto each other so, effectively, if you took one of the houses you are going to know what you are going to be looking at.”

Councillor Colin Cassidy agreed saying: “The only people who are going to be offended are the people living there because no-one else can see it.”

And fellow review body member Councillor David Virgo questioned the suggestion by planning officers that the houses were not rural enough in design.

He said: “Unless there is something prescriptive saying what is a countryside look and what is a suburban look, I think it is completely subjective and find it hard to refuse something on that basis.”

Planners had initially rejected the plans, which received three objections and ten letters of support, saying the new houses were large with ‘unusual proportions’ which were ‘neither traditional rural or contemporary design’.

Refusing permission officers said: “Four of the houses have integral garages which is not a traditional feature for rural houses. Three of the four houses have large projecting sections to the front and rear of the houses which add to the scale and mass of the buildings.

“The remaining two houses have a suburban appearance which would not be out of place in a large housing development.

“Overall the proposed layout and houses result in a very suburban proposal which does not respect the rural nature of the site, surrounding land or special landscape area.”

The appeal was upheld by the review body unanimously and planning permission granted.

The Determination Report presented to the Local Review Body can be read HERE.

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