Plan to build new village near Currie blocked by councillors

Plans to create a new village near Currie have been blocked by councillors after developers were accused of 'treating the local community with contempt'.

The new village was to be constructed near Currie. Picture: Google Street View
The new village was to be constructed near Currie. Picture: Google Street View

The H&H Group had applied to build 200 houses, homes for 200 students as well as retails space below 14 flats and a proposed GP practice on farm land next to Riccarton Mains Road, close to Heriot-Watt University.

At a planning hearing yesterday, Edinburgh City Council’s development management sub-committee refused to grant the proposals

The final decision will be made by the full council next month.

The scheme had been recommended for refusal by council officers. At the hearing, councillors raised fears over a lack of transport infrastructure and community integration for the green belt proposals.

The proposed village was criticised for being too far away for residents to use because it would be located more than 700m from the Hermiston Park and Ride.

Keith Symington from Currie Community Council, addressed the committee on his concerns, labelling the scheme as “not a sustainable development”.

He added: “There would be a loss of prime quality farm land on the green belt and detrimental to the character of the green belt.

“We believe that the transport links are poorly integrated. There’s going to be a reliance on cars to get in and out of the site. That is a lack of integration, from our point of view, with the community.

“We believe the student blocks are not consistent with the village feel.”

Tim Ferguson, speaking on behalf of the applicant, described the plans as a “stand-alone village concept”.

He added: “The focal point will be a large village green together with a village centre to cater with community needs such as smaller shops, village hall and space for a GP practice.

“On the whole, there will be no significant or detrimental impact on the wider landscape.”

Liberal Democrat Cllr Hal Osler quizzed Mr Ferguson on how the village would connect with the local community.

She said: “One of the many things that concerns me about this application is that it’s almost virtual isolation.

“It’s really important that when we build any new development, there’s a connection to the surroundings. I’m concerned about the connections this has from a walking or cycling point of view.

“It is fundamental that any new development is actually part of its environment and actually fits into the surroundings.”

Mr Ferguson argued the council had a “shortfall of housing” and the village would help plug the deficit on a quicker time-scale than a larger development. He also hit back at claims by Conservative Cllr Jo Mowat that negotiations with Scottish Power to remove pylons and put cables underground would be costly and a long process.

Green Cllr Chas Booth lamented the developers, claiming the scheme contravened the council’s housing policy.

He said: “Why are you bringing forward an application that treats our local development plan and the local community with such contempt?”

The committee unanimously rejected the proposals, subject for full council approval.

David Bol , Local Democracy Reporting Service

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