Melville Gate office development seeks Planning in Principle

Thursday October 7th 2021


The development site on the other side of the A7 to Dobbies and The Melville Inn.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

The application for Planning in Principle for Melville Gate, a ‘zero carbon’ business park at Sheriffhall South on Gilmerton Road (B6392), near Lasswade, Midlothian, zoned for business use within the Midlothian Local Development Plan 2017, is due to be placed before Midlothian Councillors this week.

The site is opposite a separate development site by Buccleuch Property which Midlothian View reported on in June of this year Consultation for land at Sheriffhall South.

The proposals for the allocated economic development land comprise four class 4 use office buildings of two and three storeys of approximately 70,000 square feet in total, provision of 295 parking spaces and a new vehicle access from Gilmerton Road.

The development consultants, Advie Properties Ltd say it is imperative to respond to changing climatic conditions and integrate sustainable measures into the key phases of the development. In line with the Advanced Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework, the many strategies and measures being worked into the scheme include on-site power generation, non-CO2 emitting fuel sources, waste management and recycling, sustainable building methods and locally sourced, renewable materials.

The site was identified by the Council as suitable for business use more than 12 years ago. Its sensitive location within the Green Belt requires that the building designs respond to the rural surroundings. The developers say that natural screening from established and proposed tree planting will minimise the visual impact. Additionally, the proposed site landscaping aims to respect the sensitive nature of the surrounding countryside, offering opportunities to create habitat for wildlife and flora, whilst delivering an attractive and healthy environment from which to work.

The application is led by James Barnes, Director of landowners, Melville Nursery Ltd, together with development consultants, Advie Properties Ltd. James Barnes has a strong connection with Midlothian. He was CEO of the Barnes family owned Dobbies Garden Centres plc between 1989 and 2013. He was a non-executive director of the Business Partnership (formally Midlothian Enterprise Trust) for 20 years, and lived with his family in Eskbank for 16 years.

Once constructed the business park will be targeted at local businesses who have a ‘green’ agenda. It is well located in relation to the wider communication network and has a large, growing, residential catchment, in accord with the requirement for office space within 15 minutes-drive of people’s homes. The timing could be favourable, responding to the increasing demand for sustainable small flexible office space in attractive environments.

James Barnes, director of Melville Nursery ltd, landowners of the proposed Melville Gate site, said:

“The area of land we are proposing for the development of Melville Gate business park was cut off from the rest of Melville Nursery by the construction of the A7. Zoned for business use by Midlothian Council for many years, its location is perfect for an easily accessible ‘zero-carbon’ office development that will meet the current demand for small, flexible office spaces in a positive environment in a post pandemic world.

“Melville Nursery is currently in the process of its own development, into a large wholesale plant Nursery. The teams behind Melville Gate and Melville Nursery are working together to cross fund the infrastructure for both projects.”

Stuart Wright, Advie Properties Ltd, said:

“The pre-application feedback for Melville Gate’s class 4 use office buildings on the site was largely supportive. Any concerns raised by Midlothian Council, Community Councils’ and other interested parties have been acknowledged, taken on-board and incorporated into the proposals.

“We are keen to see the site developed in a sensitive and ecological way. The rural surroundings and the habitat they offer to local biodiversity will be embraced within the proposals. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibilities to invest in solutions to the various crises which face the planet right now and in the future. The buildings and infrastructure at Melville Gate will be designed and specified to ensure that sound and sustainable principles are adhered to. Ensuring the built environment is created in this way should guarantee the overall success of the development.”

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