Monday, December 6, 2021

Written by local democracy journalist Marie Sharp

An offer to turn a ‘troubled’ Greenbelt site into housing will be submitted to Scottish ministers for a final decision after advisers gave it their backing despite road safety concerns.

Plans for the old gas station site in Hillend were denied a building permit by Midlothian planners in August this year after raising concerns about road safety and calling the home gardens too small .

A meeting of the Midlothian Council local review body this week was informed that Transport Scotland had also objected due to a lack of adequate information on the impact of new housing adjacent to the A702 national road .

Planners from Midlothian and Transport Scotland had requested that a road safety audit be carried out before the accommodation could be approved.

However, the local review body overturned officers’ decision to allow an appeal and grant a building permit by a five-to-three vote after deciding the proposals were the best solution for the site.

The review body was informed that the request for nine steading style housing units should now be referred back to Scottish ministers because Transport Scotland is a statutory body and its objection has remained in place.

The plaintiffs CM Roofing and Building Ltd had argued that while the council planners had other objections to their proposal, including objecting to the steading-style building design, the size of the gardens and the layout of the parking lot, it made no sense to fund a security audit.

Their agent George Gilbert said that although they were committed to carrying out a road safety audit, they did not want to shoulder the expense as council was against granting building permits for others. reasons.

He argued that if the review body upholds the appeal, then it would make more sense to invest money in an audit.

However, council planning officers argued that it was impossible to grant a building permit without a road safety transport audit at the site.

The old gas station site near Hillend had been reserved for a hotel until the pandemic struck and plans were scrapped.

The land, which is 70 meters north of the junction of the A702 with Pentland Road and the A703, has not been used as a gas station for 20 years and has recently benefited from car wash services and of Christmas tree vendors.

Councilor Colin Cassidy, a member of the review body, said he was “disturbed” by the fact that a hotel had received a building permit on the site, but a residential site of nine houses was found to be unacceptable.

He said: “If it were allowed to build a 35-room hotel that could accommodate up to 100 cars per day, I don’t understand why nine small establishments would generate such a problem.”

The review body was informed that the site has seen several temporary commercial uses in recent years, including the sale of Christmas trees and car wash facilities.

Councilor Dianne Alexander urged councilors to keep the call going, saying she believes the new accommodation would be better for the site.

She said: “I have reservations about road safety, but at the moment there are already cars coming in and out because they are used either as a car wash or to sell Christmas trees.

“I think having a development would both improve entry into Midlothian and make it much more secure.”

However, councilor Jim Muirhead, a member of the organization, urged caution against approving the application because the site was “unsightly.”

And he said: “We are not considering a previous planning request, we are concerned with this one.”

Mr Muirhead backed planning officers who said road safety issues need to be addressed before plans can be approved.

The review body voted in favor of the appeal by five votes to three.

The chairman of the review body, Councilor Russell Imrie, who voted to dismiss the appeal, wished the candidates “good luck” on the next leg of their journey.


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