A ROW has broken out over proposals to build four eco-homes on the green belt, after the development was knocked back despite claims it would improve the area.
The proposals to redevelop the Old Mill site on Lanark Road West, Balerno, were narrowly refused at a planning meeting as they did not comply with the council’s development policy on green belt land.
But the application created a split between councillors, with planning convener Ian Perry voting against the appeal while vice-convener Sandy Howat was in favour, arguing it would enhance the protected area.
Councillor Howat said he agreed with the council’s green belt policy but said it had been “wrongly applied” in this case.
He said: “Green belt doesn’t mean no building in any circumstances, it means improving and enhancing the quality of the area.
“We are enhancing the ruins and I think we should support it. It should be acceptable in principle.
“The mill is already down there, down a great big slope. I don’t think it has the impact on the green belt we are trying to protect, it is in keeping with the area. I think the policies are correct but here they have been poorly applied.”
Objectors to the development, which included felling a number of mature trees, argued the development would damage the natural environment.
Concerns were raised that the entrances to the properties would make the road dangerous and that excessive cars could lead to on-street parking.
Nigel Bagshaw, Scottish Green group councillor, said he strongly believed the council needed to enforce its green belt guidelines unless there was strong mitigation.
He said: “Unless there are compelling reasons for why we should go against policy, I don’t think we should.
“Replacing this with eco- homes by destroying the environment doesn’t make sense.”
The application was previously refused in January amid concerns over its environmental impact being next to the Water of Leith.
Alterations were made to the size and structure of the buildings with the amended version receiving 31 letters of support, to eight objections, from local residents and groups.
Neighbour William Muir wrote that he thought the new plans were a “good compromise”.
“The new plan has reduced the number of properties and the height of the building so that it will have much less impact on the walkway. It provides benefits and the old mill remains will be visible so a history of the Old Mill site can be included on a sign which is a nice idea by the owners.”
Developer Kenneth Reid Architects said it was disappointed by the decision and felt there had been “a good body of support”.