Roslin ‘obliterated’ by housing developments

The character of an historic village is being “obliterated” by large housing developments, Midlothian’s provost told councillors at a planning meeting last week.

The planning committee gave the go ahead to two planning applications which will allow over 270 houses to be built on land to the north west of the village.

The land was identified as suitable for housing in Midlothian’s Local Development Plan.

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However Councillor Peter Smaill (Con), provost, expressed regret at the ongoing developments in the village where he used to live.

He told the committee: “I am a former resident of Roslin and it is certainly the case that what happened with the Scottish Government’s plans and with our own plans has meant that the character of Roslin is being obliterated by very large housing developments.”

His view was supported by Councillor Debbi McCall (SNP), who said: “I have concerns that Roslin is going to change beyond all recognition.

“If the current building goes on as it is I don’t think we’ll be able to split Roslin and Bilston. It is going to be one mini-town instead of two distinct villages.”

Roslin  was the site of a battle during the First War of Scottish Independence in 1303. It rose to international fame as the home of Rosslyn Chapel, which featured in Dan Brown’ hit thriller The Da Vinci Code.

The planning committee heard that there was a petition with 450 signatures from across the UK and abroad, objecting to one of the applications for the site which will cut through a well used core path in the village.

The proposal for 221 houses on three quarters of the land available includes an access road crossing core path 29, which runs along an old railway line on the southern boundary of the site.

Councillor Smaill told the committee that it was possible for cyclists to get “a pretty good lick on” while using the path and called for additional safety measures to be introduced and construction traffic to be barred from using the new access.

During discussions on the larger of the planning applications, Councillor Andrew Hardie (Con) asked if it would be possible to reduce the developers’ contributions required for affordable housing on the land and divert some funds to improving Roslin Glen Country Park, which lies to the south of the village.

Midlothian Council asks developers for 25 per cent of all housing to be affordable, although they relaxed that condition only last month when giving the go-ahead to 400 new homes at the former Roslynlee Hospital site.

That decision was described by planning convenor Councillor Russell Imrie (Lab) as “a wobble” at last week’s meeting.

Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) said the 25 per cent was not something that was there to be “traded off”.

However Councillor Hardie criticised the council’s approach to affordable housing, suggesting some of the private housing being built on the site would meet the Scottish Government’s criteria for affordable homes.

And Councillor Smaill called for consideration  to be given to existing residents of Roslin.

He said: “I realise that the 25 per cent is something that is absolutely worshipped by councillors here but we have to consider the wider concept and quality of life for those who are existing residents.

“Unlike Roslynlee which is self-contained this is going to change the character of the village.”

Councillor Imrie said a section of developers contributions was already allocated to community facilities/space and could be looked at for the country park.

Both the application for 221 houses and a second for 51 homes on the remaining land were approved by the committee.