May 2017: Summary of Public Meeting at North Middleton regarding plans for a large housing development of two storey houses on a greenfield site on the Borthwick Castle Road.

Miller Homes proposed housing development, Borthwick Castle Road, North Middleton

Note of Public Meeting with Miller Homes, North Middleton Village Hall

Thursday 11th May 2017

 

Moorfoot Community Council called this meeting to facilitate discussion about the proposed building of 34 houses, 29 private and 5 affordable, on a green field site opposite Moorfoot Primary School.

 

The meeting was attended by over 70 residents and the three Councillors for the Midlothian South ward who were there in a listening capacity.  Mr Tom Cahill, Area Technical Manager (Scotland), with his colleague, Liz Cunningham, gave a short presentation outlining the plans which are still in a preliminary stage.  The meeting was then opened to questions.

 

Miller Homes presentation

The proposal is for 34 houses of which 5 will be “affordable”.  The latter will be built by Miller but then sold to a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) who will manage the properties.  Miller has issued tenders for the RSL.  The plan is to start construction in late 2017/early 2018.  Construction will take 18-24 months.

The 20 mph speed limit in the village will be extended along Borthwick Castle Road to encompass the development.  There will be a new zebra crossing from the middle of the development, with a new footpath from there to the school.

The site is 4.5 acres in total, of which 3 acres is developable, leaving 1.5 acres of public space.

All trees on the southern edge of the site will be retained.

The footpath on the south side of Borthwick Castle Road will be widened (into the development site) to 2 metres.

Miller had had discussions with the council planning department.  The planners had made comments about roads, visitor parking, drainage, landscaping and other matters.  Developer contributions to infrastructure would be governed by a Section 75 legal agreement, a draft of which had been received from the Council.

 

Question session

There was a general strong feeling that this number of additional houses, which would add more than 25% to the current village size, would have an adverse effect.  The style of housing proposed was unsympathetic to the village and surrounding areas and no provision was being made to improve the infrastructure to support the increase in the village population.

 

There was general disapproval of any two storey houses being constructed, but at present the proposal is for the majority of the houses to be two storey with only 10 along Borthwick Castle Road to be 1.5 storey units.  It was claimed that 3 existing two storey house in North Middleton had established a precedent.  The affordable houses will be 5 terraced houses. It was suggested that there could be a stigma attached to these houses being so obviously different and it was suggested they should be dispersed throughout the site.  Mr Cahill answered that this would not be practicable for any Housing Association constructing these houses.  Questions were asked about how the style of housing would be affected by the site being within the boundaries of Borthwick Conservation Area.  Mr Cahill stated that the only effect would be on the choice of materials, yet to be decided.

 

Many asserted that the impact of increased traffic both from new permanent residents and from construction throughout the 18 – 24 month building time would be considerable.  Mr Cahill assured the meeting that planning conditions governing safety and movement of traffic would be strictly observed once settled.  Work would take place Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm and on Saturdays 8am to 1pm.  Many, however, still expressed concerns about the risks of all the associated increase in traffic and brought up the question of the dangers at the A7 junction, already a worry for residents.  In addition to construction traffic, this development would generate a potential 70 extra car movements each morning and evening at the A7 junction, where there were already significant safety concerns.  Mr Cahill said that there was no requirement for a traffic assessment for this scale of development.

 

Another main concern was for the impact on the primary school of increased congestion and risk at the school entrance.  Also the primary school is presently at almost full capacity.  Mention of the developer’s contribution to education of £500.00 per house built did not satisfy the concerns on this question.  In addition there is the question of where new residents would find a GP.  There is no public transport between N Middleton and Pathhead and the Gorebridge practice has closed its books.

 

Miller Homes were unable to explain why the original limit of 15 on the number of houses on this site had been lifted but advised that the development had been put out to tender on the open market, Miller had put in a bid for 34 houses and in discussions with council planners they agreed that 34 houses was “a good fit” on the site.  34 houses in 4.5 acres was “not over-development”.

 

It was revealed that the energy to be used has not yet been decided.  Mains gas is not provided in the village, but even if this were to be brought in by Miller Homes it would not be made available by them to the whole village.  If electricity is to be used then it was suggested that this would require a new sub-station.  Solar PV panels would be provided on all house roofs but these would only be sufficient to meet 10% of electricity demand – a Scottish Government requirement.

 

Further questions about services ascertained that Scottish Water has still to report whether or not the present sewage facility would have the capacity to cope with the new houses.  If it does not then Miller Homes would not go ahead with the development.

 

Assurances were given that ecological matters had been assessed and that e.g. no trees on the periphery would be removed and the ecological consultants had advised that there would be no significant impacts.  The ecological assessment report was not being made available by the council because it could put endangered species at risk.

 

Mr Cahill was asked if consideration had been given to provision of Superfast Broadband and, if that was to be supplied by Miller Homes, would it be made available to the whole village?  This received a guarded positive response as Miller Homes aim to provide all their new houses with this facility.  Further questions about safety outside the primary school were answered by the information that the footpath will be widened by removing the current hedge along the south side of Borthwick castle Road and by creating a zebra crossing and increasing the extent of the current 20mph limit.  It was pointed out that there already was a zebra crossing.

 

There would be no impact on the Right of Way along the cleuch to the south of the site since it was outside their boundary.  There might be a possibility of a new footpath from the development connecting with the Right of Way although “the gradients would be challenging”.

 

There was no mechanism within Miller Homes to provide funding towards community facilities in North Middleton, for example under corporate social responsibility arrangements.  All developer contributions to infrastructure would be within the framework of the Section 75 agreement.  Mr Cahill suggested that if the community wanted to pursue additional funding for community developments they could speak to the council about expanding the terms of the Section 75 agreement.  The total sum involved in the Section 75 agreement was around £400,000.

 

Miller Homes would visit the primary school to discuss with teachers and pupils how the construction of the site would be managed.  There would be no lorry movements at critical times for the school.  Standard working hours would be 0800-1800 Monday to Friday and 0800-1300 Saturdays but these would be adjusted to fit the school’s requirements and set out in a Transport Management Plan.

 

No consideration had been given to approaching Lothian Buses to extend their services to North Middleton.

 

In summary the feeling of the meeting was that the number of houses was excessive and the building of two storey houses was unacceptable.  This development as it stands would bring no benefits to North Middleton and, in fact, would be detrimental to the environment and life enjoyed at present in the village.

 

Members of the public can comment on this proposal and we encourage you to give your opinion and make sure your voice is heard as a Moorfoot Resident, especially if you live near North Middleton and Borthwick, if your children attend the primary school or if you have other connections with the villages involved.

 

Miller Homes development:  how to submit comments

 

If you would like to make a comment on the application, you can do it in several ways.  Whichever way you do it, please remember to quote planning reference 17/00224/DPP, and please note all comments must be submitted by 18th May.

 

1. Online

Go to the planning application page at:
https://tinyurl.com/mtv72s8
Register and login, then submit your comment, and quote planning reference 17/00224/DPP

 

2. By email

Send your comment quoting planning reference 17/00224/DPP to development.management@midlothian.gov.uk
with a copy to duncan.robertson@midlothian.gov.uk

3 By post

Send your comment quoting planning reference 17/00224/DPP to:
Development Management
Midlothian Council
Fairfield House
8 Lothian Road
Dalkeith EH22 3ZN

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