Gorebridge chicken shed site decision a ‘travesty of justice’

A bid to replace giant disused chicken sheds with housing was knocked back by officials because the owner demolished the sheds before applying.

The land at the entrance to the village of Newlandrig, near Gorebridge.
The land at the entrance to the village of Newlandrig, near Gorebridge.

In a move which Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan described as a “travesty of justice” policy rules led officers to find the site was no longer suitable for development because it had been cleared.

The decision was overturned on appeal by the council’s Local Review Body this week as councillors agreed the owner should not be penalised for improving the look of the land.

Agent Tony Thomas told the review body that planning permission for 10 houses on the land at the entrance to the village of Newlandrig, near Gorebridge was granted in 2017.

Council policy for housing development in the countryside allows it if it is replacing disused buildings – in this case the chicken sheds.

Mr Thomas said that the owner went ahead with demolishing the sheds in 2018 but planning permission ran out two years later at the start of the pandemic.

He then reapplied for planning permission in principle for the houses but his application was rejected because the land no longer had the buildings on it.

At the meeting of the review body a planning officer told members: “The policy support was there for the previous scheme because it met with our aims of improving the character and appearance of the countryside by removing redundant buildings.

“The situation has changed now because there is nothing there to clear therefore the justification is gone.”

Council leader Derek Milligan, however, said: “It really would be a kind of travesty of justice to penalise in planning terms the owner for removing what were at the time when I went back many years ago dilapidated and horrible big chicken sheds.”

And fellow review body member Councillor Peter Smaill said: “This is an occasion where while we are respecting the integrity of our planning officer I think as councillors we can see this as a positive element for the area.”

The appeal was unanimously upheld and planning permission approved.