We were delighted with the public interest in our masterplan exhibition proposals and received plenty of feedback during both live events. We felt it was important to publicise a summary of the feedback received and our responses to questions raised across those events.
Current use of the site proposed for development
The proposed development site includes the fallow field adjoining Pentland Park as well as the existing amenity space dedicated to park residents.
The latter is not being lost and is in fact being expanded and enhanced. Plans are to relocate and significantly improve this area with formal landscaping, a play area and network of dedicated and well-lit footpaths which will also allow access up to the north-western corner of the development site.
The remaining land has only been accessible to residents on a temporary basis during the continuing national lockdown resulting from the COVID pandemic. Public access is at the landowner’s discretion and this land does not form part of their obligation to provide a dedicated amenity resource for the Park.
Traffic and access
The access arrangements have been considered by a specialist transport consultant who has undertaken an access appraisal to assess how this proposed development might be safely and efficiently accessed.
It is too early to determine if any new traffic lights will be required at either of the proposed access arrangements but this will be addressed in a full Transport Impact Assessment submitted to the council as part of a future planning application. The council, as roads authority, will consider if traffic lights or any other road safety improvements are justified and required to serve this proposal. We will of course comply with all recommendations from the council.
We have already instructed and received appraisals from expert transport consultants on access arrangements to the site. No traffic into the development site from the A701 will need to enter Pentland Park itself other than the immediate turn off that road and we do not anticipate any impact to residents.
We have also examined projected uses at the site and our proposals were specifically selected on the basis that they would not generate excessive trip numbers. Indeed, the traffic volumes associated with the proposals should result in fewer than one trip every minute both inbound and outbound, easily accommodated on the existing surrounding road network. It should also be noted that these trips are also split between two access points.
Landscaping and trees
In short, the answer is yes, and indeed there are plans to significantly increase the number of trees and planting at the site to create a pleasant and green environment. We commissioned a detailed report from experts providing us with an extensive tree and hedgerow survey to better inform our plans. Landscaping is extremely important to us and the reports commissioned formed an integral part of our planning process.
At its heart this proposal, we hope, is set to benefit the local community. The proposals incorporate significant green elements including around 200 new trees, a much-improved amenity green space with children's play area and a dedicated network of 2.5km of well-lit footpaths.
This is a key consideration for the proposals and the landowner is required to ensure that amenity of existing residents is not unduly impacted by this proposed development. There are significant plans for new planting and landscaping arrangements which will serve to benefit the existing residents and protect privacy. Moreover, there are clear guidelines operated by the council with regard to distances between existing and proposed development and especially residential type uses. The landowner must be able to demonstrate adherence to those guidelines if they are to satisfy the council in this respect.
Proposed layout and uses
The current masterplan layout reflects the current demand in this location as well as the landowner’s aspirations to provide uses which will be of maximum benefit to the local community. They currently include:
- an Aldi foodstore;
- veterinary surgery/hospital;
- community facility (current interest from children’s nursery operator);
- Children’s Local Area for Play (LAP);
- enhanced amenity/greenspace;
- new footpath network;
- affordable homes, and
- retirement living and care facilities.
No, the reference to a children’s nursery relates solely to the fact that there is current interest in that plot from a local operator. The landowner is proposing to build this facility themselves and intends that this will be used by the wider community if a suitable use can be identified.
All of the uses at this ‘in principle’ stage are indicative but the landowner believes they are deliverable and will benefit the local community.
The residential uses currently include a small number of affordable houses, retirement homes and a care facility. Our hope and aim is to provide somewhere for residents who may in time require assistance, but would like to stay in the local area where they have put down roots, especially if that means being near to family and friends.
The masterplan currently proposes 10 affordable homes, (2 storey units), 42 retirement units and 112 assisted living units (mostly 2 storey with some 3 storey elements in the centre of the site to avoid any visual impacts).
The new buildings will be designed to fit seamlessly into the surroundings, respecting the scale and nature of the existing neighbourhood.
Infrastructure and Services
We firmly believe our plans will improve the local infrastructure. The proposed development will be required to provide adequate infrastructure and connections to service the uses proposed which is also required to take full account of the arrangements for existing development in the vicinity.
An engineer has already undertaken detailed assessment of the current infrastructure provisions and addressed what is required to accommodate the new development without impacting on the existing arrangements for the Park.
A drainage strategy has been prepared and that will be submitted to the council with any future planning application. Early contact has been made with Scottish Water who will also be formally consulted by the council on receipt of a planning application.
Operator Demand / Interest in the Site
We can confirm that Aldi has signed a commercial agreement with the landowner to deliver a new store as shown on the masterplan.
There is also currently interest in the site from a local children's nursery operator for the community use building which the landowners will build at their own cost. That building can be whatever the community feels would be appropriate but it is indicatively identified as a children's nursery as that is currently the noted interest.
There is interest in the affordable housing units from two local Registered Social Landlords and discussions are ongoing.
The commercial plot identified opposite and to the west of the proposed Aldi store has interest from a local veterinary surgery as well as coffee shop outlets. We can confirm that there are no plans for a fast food outlet.
This was of primary importance to us at the outset of our proposals and in fact improving biodiversity was a key part of the plans. As a result, we commissioned an ecologist to undertake a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal which helped inform the Masterplan. It did not identify any protected species or habitats within or close to the site boundaries. However, it did highlight opportunities for further biodiversity enhancements and recommends some additional survey work to be undertaken at an appropriate time in the future. This report will be submitted as part of a future planning application.
We have prepared a number of reports, one of those being a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal, which considers the impact of proposed development on local species and their habitats. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) - Screening Opinion Request was made to Midlothian Council and confirmation received that an EIA was not required for this proposal.
We engaged a firm of chartered engineers to prepare an environmental assessment and their initial report was submitted in full with our planning application. We also retained a firm of geotechnical experts to undertake a coal mining risk assessment and neither has highlighted any issues of concern.
If any development is approved then the subsequent developers responsible will be required to prepare a Construction Management Plan for their proposals and submit that to the council for approval before any works take place.
The current masterplan proposals are ‘in principle’ only and as the landowners will not develop out the site then this is not something they are required to address at this stage.