Planning Application 18/00740/DPP Application for Detailed Planning Permission for site at Dalhousie South (HS11)
The following response is a joint one to refer to both Planning Applications.
While Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council are aware this site is zoned for development in the 2017 Midlothian Local Development Plan (MLDP) there is great concern within our area regarding the rapid growth of the town. The failure of the infrastructure to keep up, exacerbated by these years of the Council’s financial deficit and resulting cuts, leads many to say our quality of life in Bonnyrigg is decreasing. At this point in time further house building beyond that for which permissions are already in place (HS10 for example) are not welcomed.
We are not asking that this site is never developed just that it should not happen until the required infrastructure is in place. The Vision found in 1.2 of MLDP does not seem like the practice seen on the ground. Some of the difficulties of the development of the HS11 site both for existing residents of Bonnyrigg & Lasswade and for purchasers of houses at Dalhousie South follow:
- The employment is not available to support the likely newcomers and so the already overstretched road network will be burdened further. The jobs are in Edinburgh and not all on train or easy bus routes. Sheriffhall South has not happened.
- The upgrade of Sheriffhall is still some time away and while this may give some relief the A720 traffic will continue to be beyond reasonable capacity during peak periods. Traffic surveys never show a wide enough spread of traffic problems – a journey to work is not just about the first two or three junctions.
- Easy and safe access to the Eskbank Railway Station would need to be available from the first house sale if the residents of HS11 are to establish travel to work by train. A reason why this site should not be developed yet.
- The urbanisation of the A7 (whenever that occurs) may help pedestrians cross the A7 to reach the station but is unlikely to do anything for the queues of traffic along this stretch of the A7 during busy periods.
- The community identity of Bonnyrigg and Lasswade is being changed too rapidly. Perhaps this is why there is a youth anti-social behaviour problem in the town. Maintaining Community Identity and preventing coalescence are Environmental Objectives under 1.3.2 of MLDP.
- It is unlikely the local schools have adequate capacity for this site. Experience shows more families with young children move to Bonnyrigg and Lasswade than expected under traditional models. The capacity in Bonnyrigg Primary School is unlikely to be sufficient. The Lasswade High School is over capacity already. The Developer contributions do not arrive fast enough for the school capacity to be built in advance of need.
- The other services needed for families these days such as nurseries, breakfast clubs, holiday clubs, after school facilities, playgroups do not at present have spare capacity for the expected new residents. Additionally, there are shortages in provision of the after-school activities most people aspire to for their children. Cubs, scouts, gymnastic classes and other cultural and sporting activities have waiting lists. HS11 can only make this worse.
- Community Space in Bonnyrigg and Lasswade is limited as the Lasswade High School Centre was expected to provide a Hub and a number of older Community Facilities closed down. As pupil numbers in the High School have grown the School has taken over some of the rooms available to the community. None of the new developments have local facilities except the odd play park provided by the developer. There is often space left for community use and owned by the residents of a development but with high management fees for site maintenance little new is put in place and if it was it would only be for residents in the development.
- While not under the control of the Council the difficulties with Primary Care Provision in the town is another aspect of services not robust enough to support this over rapid growth in population. More house building will not provide us with more GPs.
- Much is made of the opportunity for walking and cycling routes. It is possible to walk to Bonnyrigg Primary School from HS11 site but many parents have children at more than one stage of schooling. Most of the other nurseries and playgroups are further away and if the time schedule is not co-ordinated the parents can feel forced to go by car to be on time at more than facility. It is one of the disadvantages of the HS11 site that it is so far out from other facilities in the town and walking with small children while desirable is not always feasible.
- A major issue with the HS11 site is its position on the ‘other’ side of the Distributer Road B6392, a natural boundary for the town. This is out with the traditional urban envelope of Bonnyrigg and Lasswade and there is surely no reason for this development prior to the land within the envelope being developed.
- The 300 or so houses will reduce the functionality of the Distributer Road. This bypass of the difficult town centre (a major Midlothian east-west crossroads) will have another junction for HS10 development as well as the two junctions for HS11. And this is not to include the continuing development of Hopefield. If the consequential extra traffic delays at the Hardengreen Roundabout (and urbanised A7) are substantial more traffic may try to cross Midlothian via Bonnyrigg Toll. This would be development at the expense of the existing residents.
- There are concerns about this site being included in the MLDP at all. The field lies in to the Newbattle Strategic Green Space and should be part of it. It slopes down to the Dalhousie Burn and the crucial wildlife corridor that links from Newbattle to Whitehill as well as to the Dalhousie Castle wooded area. The weakest spot is around the HS11 site.
- Bonnyrigg has only ever been located on the area between the two very special river valleys of the North and South Esk (so many of our old settlements and estates lie along their valleys). This plan is expanding Bonnyrigg out with its natural limits and endangering our historic, and listed, framework and landscape. Newbattle Abbey, Cockpen Church and Dalhousie Castle are all major sites and the development of this site, sitting right in the middle as it does, endangers the historic setting of all three. This site should be part of the Newbattle Strategic Green Space.
In summary Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council do not believe the development of HS11 at this point in time is wise in view of the too rapid growth of our town that has left us with struggling infrastructure and services.
The point agreed on by almost all residents of Bonnyrigg and Lasswade at present is that the house building has gone far enough for now.