The application for planning in principle for Melville Gate at Sheriffhall South near Lasswade is due to be placed before local councillors.
The proposals for the allocated economic development land comprise four office buildings of two and three storeys of about 70,000 square feet in total, the provision of 295 parking spaces and a new access point from Gilmerton Road.
James Barnes, director of landowner Melville Nursery and the former chief executive of Dobbies Garden Centres, is leading the application, together with development consultancy Advie Properties. Barnes was a non-executive director of the Business Partnership (formerly Midlothian Enterprise Trust) for 20 years, and lived with his family in Eskbank for 16 years.
The proposed site was identified by Midlothian Council as suitable for business use more than 12 years ago. Its location within the green belt requires that the building designs respond to the rural surroundings.
Developers said the scheme would feature on-site power generation, non-CO2 emitting fuel sources, waste management and recycling, sustainable building methods and “locally sourced, renewable materials”.
Once constructed, the business park will be targeted at local businesses who have a “green agenda”.
Barnes 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.”
He added: “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 of Advie Properties said: “The pre-application feedback for Melville Gate’s class four-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 proposal.
“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,” he added. “Ensuring the built environment is created in this way should guarantee the overall success of the development.”
The site is currently owned by Melville Nursery. It was owned by Dobbies Garden Centres before it was floated as a plc in 1997.
The construction of the A7 road separated it from the larger part of the nursery. As a result, ownership of the site stayed with the Barnes family.