The Scottish Government has been urged not to put 300 new jobs in jeopardy as it decides whether to approve plans for a £13 million tourist village in Midlothian.
Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan made the call as proposals for a luxury development at Fordel on the A68 near Dalkeith are reviewed by ministers. Earlier this year, the local authority approved the bid by Dalkeith-based Oakridge Property in principle.
Backed by former Jenners owner Andrew Douglas Miller, the development would see a hotel, restaurants and tourist centre built to provide a “gateway” between Edinburgh and the Borders.
But the development is “significantly contrary” to the Edinburgh and the Lothians Structure Plan because of its rural location and is subject to final approval by ministers.
Councillor Milligan said: “This was one of the hardest planning decisions we have had to make in Midlothian. But tough economic times require tough decisions to be made.
“So we decided, on balance, that the economic benefit through the creation of 300 jobs was such a strong ‘material consideration’ that it should overcome the presumption against development in rural areas. That’s why we are asking the Scottish ministers not to put these new jobs in Midlothian in jeopardy. Our strategic vision is to create up to 10,000 new jobs in Midlothian by 2020 – we need the 300 new jobs associated with this development to help us promote and secure Midlothian’s economic recovery.”
Malcolm Cunningham, director of Oakridge Properties, said the firm was “disappointed” the application had been called in.
“We will be working closely with Midlothian Council to try and persuade those whom we need to persuade of the merits of the application.
“With House of Bruar currently being on the market, it would be a very opportune time to be promoting this as a suitable location for something like it, being perhaps of greater potential given that it’s closer to tourists and day trippers in the Central Belt.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish ministers have decided that further scrutiny of the proposed development is required to ensure it fits in with policies contained in the approved Edinburgh and the Lothians Structure Plan, the adopted Midlothian Local Plan and Scottish Planning Policy.
“The views of all interested parties, including Councillor Derek Milligan, will be taken into account.”