A BRIEFING NOTE FROM THE INVERESK VILLAGE SOCIETY
The proposed East Lothian Local Development Plan has just been published for consultation. It sets out how the provisions of the Strategic Development Plan (SDP) will be delivered locally. The SDP which covers the whole of south east Scotland requires 10,050 dwellings in East Lothian up to 2024. The council has allocated land for 13,583, including current commitments, but some of this will be delivered after 2024 and it includes an overprovision (or generosity allowance) to cover slippage in the event of delays in delivery. The figure actually anticipated to be delivered across East Lothian by 2024 is 12,329 which represents an over provision of 23%.
The allocations (i.e. the 13,583) are as follows:
Musselburgh 5304 across a range of specified sites (> 50% increase in population)
Preston Seton Gosford 659
Total for west (the council’s preferred ‘compact growth’ area) 9083
N Berwick 1316
Total for east 4500
25% affordable housing will be required at each individual site.
There are no proposals which directly affect Inveresk but the sheer volume of new housing in Musselburgh will have a dramatic impact on whole town and particularly the town centre. Some of the proposals will funnel more traffic through the village and two of these (Howe Mire and Whitecraig North) will open up further land close by for further development. The Village Society committee has decided to support and expand upon the representations and objections which will be made by the Musselburgh Conservation Society and these are summarised below.
The Conservation Society maintains that the council’s strategy for compact growth in the west closest to Edinburgh to deliver these numbers is flawed, notably because of its impact on Musselburgh. In summary the reasons are:
– Stresses on infrastructure and services
– Concentration will not deliver government or council’s aims and objectives
– Unacceptable mass of development when coupled with adjacent proposals in Edinburgh and Midlothian
– Road network constrained in Musselburgh and consequent impact on the High Street which mitigation measures will not resolve
– Local accessibility overplayed – can’t get on trains, buses slow and do not link with employment areas (proximity to Edinburgh does not equal accessibility)
– Musselburgh has a special character which needs to be protected.
It wants to get the numbers for Musselburgh down and proposes to lodge an objection to the Local Plan suggesting they be reduced by 1000. This is based upon not replacing what was lost by dropping the Goshen site and is in effect damage limitation. It would like to suggest more and call for greater dispersal across the county but any new proposals elsewhere will be vigorously challenged by local communities who are already complaining about their allocations. They would require testing thus delaying the Local Plan process and leading to more speculative and inappropriate schemes by developers (possibly around Inveresk) because there is no effective Local Plan. It believes that 1000 can be accommodated without calling for new site allocations elsewhere (let’s call it ‘creative planning’) and the objection will indicate how this could be done.
Revised proposals for Musselburgh would be dictated by the Conservation Society’s vision (settlement strategy) that it has put together based upon the protection of key areas of Green Belt and this will also form part of its representation on the Plan. Specific changes to the Plan to be proposed in the objection are likely to be:
Omit Howe Mire (170 dwellings) – battlefield impact including burials and no defendable Green Belt boundary thus threatening the fields between Wallyford and Musselburgh. Also channels traffic through Inveresk. Replace small employment allowance here at Craighall.
Omit Whitecraig North (200 dwellings) – over expansion of Whitecraig, no defendable Green Belt boundary and channels traffic through Inveresk.
Reduce Craighall by 430 dwellings, i.e. down to 1,070 thus reducing the amount of development south of the A1, remote from the town and close to Shawfair. The Main Issues Report (MIR) figure for this area was 700 with potential for more. A greater employment allocation could replace the loss; this is an excellent employment location.
Reduce Dolphingstone South by 200 dwellings – possibly achieved by reducing amount of high density housing inappropriate for this area. MIR figure here was 400 as a safeguard. Local Plan figure is 600 as a firm proposal.
The Conservation Society could propose a greater reduction at Dolphingstone South but the numbers are apparently needed to create a critical mass for the new secondary school and in any case the land has already been despoiled in preparation for development. An alternative would be to propose no reduction here and lose 630 at Craighall reducing the figure there to 870 (closer to the original 700) but there are traffic advantages in concentrating development in the south west and numbers are apparently needed to enable employment development.
The Conservation Society will be suggesting that the idea of school provision at Craighall being shared with Midlothian is resurrected because it would take pressure off the Grammar School, and it will suggest that Craighall village be taken out of the Whitecraig Primary School catchment since access is impossible except by car or school bus. The reduction in numbers proposed would impact on the secondary provision needed but it seems the council is now wedded to the idea of a second secondary school at Wallyford.
The council’s proposed Plan can be viewed at the Library or on line and if you want to make a personal representation or objection that should also be done on line through the council’s consultation portal. The closing date is 31st October.
Chairman, Inveresk Village Society
Addendum: development site locations
Howe Mire – Land immediately to the south west of the skeletal greyhound track grandstand.
Whitecraig North – land immediately to the north west of the car dealers in Whitecraig and behind the Mercat.
Craighall – Large area of land on both sides of the A1 surrounding Queen Margaret University south of the railway line.
Shawfair – Large development area in Midlothian immediately west of the East Lothian boundary.
Dolphingstone South – An eastwards extension of the currently progressing Wallyford expansion.