Midlothian roofing firm bids to turn Hillend Christmas trees site into permanent home

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Midlothian Council rejected original application for long-standing site

A roofing firm which operates on land which has been used to sell Christmas trees for decades is appealing to Scottish Ministers to allow it to become its permanent home.

C.M. Roofing and Building say they have been operating on the former petrol station site on Biggar Road, Hillend, for more than a decade and should be allowed to remain.

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The firm had applied for a change of use certificate from Midlothian Council to confirm it could be a storage facility but were refused after planners questioned whether it had been permanently used for that purpose. Planners pointed out that previous applications for the site, including one currently being investigated by Scottish Ministers for nine houses, had described the land where the firm said it had its storage as a ‘car park’.

Former petrol station site's future now lies with Scottish Ministers.Former petrol station site's future now lies with Scottish Ministers.
Former petrol station site's future now lies with Scottish Ministers.

The roofing firm says the land is split into two levels and it has been using the lower level since 2012 to store materials for its business. The upper level was used for a period of time as a car wash and has been used every festive season to sell Christmas trees for 30 years.

Appealing to Scottish Ministers to overturn the council’s refusal of a change of use, they said aerial pictures taken over a decade proved they had been using the lower level of the site for at least 10 years which should have meant it was granted the change of use.

However, planners listed a number of other application for the site which have been lodged during the decade saying: “None of the submitted planning application documents show any storage use on that land and no evidence has been submitted to support any lawful Class 6 storage use on that part of the land.”

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The firm applied for planning permission for nine houses on the site two years ago which was initially refused by planners but approved on appeal by the council’s Local Review Body.

The review body decision came despite an objection by Transport Scotland who had concerns about the site being accessed off the A702 trunk road This led to the plans being called in by Scottish Ministers because Transport Scotland is a statutory body. No decision on the investigation has been issued to date.

The former petrol station site near Hillend had previously been earmarked for a hotel until the pandemic hit and the plans were scrapped. The land, which lies 70 metres north of the A702 junction with Pentland Road and the A703, has not been used as a petrol station for 20 years.