‘Flawed’ housing plan faces legal challenge

East Lothian Council needs to build 10,000 new homes over the next decade. Picture: Getty

East Lothian Council needs to build 10,000 new homes over the next decade. Picture: Getty

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CONTROVERSIAL plans for major housing developments in East Lothian could be halted in a dramatic legal move.

East Lothian SNP MP George Kerevan said he is taking advice on seeking a judicial review of the local development plan (LDP) for the county, which is due to be unveiled by council chiefs today.

It is understood the plan – which obliges East Lothian Council to identify where 10,000 homes should be built over the next decade – will propose a concentration of new homes around Musselburgh.

The plan is expected to be approved at a special council meeting at Musselburgh’s Brunton Hall today, with Labour and Conservative councillors voting in favour and SNP councillors against.

Mr Kerevan said: “I’m totally against the strategy contained in the LDP to build the majority of new housing in the west of the county, which will destroy the green belt and mean the Edinburgh conurbation stretches right across.

“I believe the 10,000 houses should be dispersed across the whole area, in small packages.

“The council officials have produced no alternative to vote on. The obvious thing would be to discuss the merits of a dispersed strategy versus a concentration on the west side of the county. That would allow proper discussion.”

He said supporters of the LDP argued that dispersing the housing across the county would mean extra costs in new infrastructure.

But he said putting all the new homes near Musselburgh would overload existing schools and sewerage systems and lead to the “most horrendous” traffic congestion.

He said: “If this flawed plan is imposed on East Lothian by Labour and Conservative councillors, 60 per cent of all new housing will be built in the west of the county.

“Old, historic communities will be reduced to mere 
suburbs of Edinburgh and Musselburgh, Prestonpans and Tranent will be consigned to concrete oblivion.

“This is a plan for a greater Edinburgh, not for a better East Lothian.”

Mr Kerevan also criticised the council’s timetable for dealing with the LDP and promised to organise his own public meetings for residents to air their views.

He said: “This is a rush to judgement. The draft should be subject to public debate. I’m so angry with the way this is being handled I intend to organise a series of meetings across East Lothian next year to ask the public what they think.

“I’m appalled that the new development plan is being tabled for instant approval, with no alternative proposals being offered by council officials.

“I’m seeking legal advice on if we can secure a judicial review, given the failure of the East Lothian administration to offer serious alternatives to this flawed strategy.”

Council leader Willie Innes said housing growth was “challenging”.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com