Owner of eyesore former Lugton Inn site in Dalkeith given 28 days to clear or face council action
Councillors call for action to be taken on “blight on our landscape”
The owner of an eyesore site strewn with rubbish at the entrance to Dalkeith has been given 28 days to clear it or face council action. Midlothian councillors today (Tuesday) agreed to take direct action against the owner of the land, which was formerly the site of Lugton Inn, before it was demolished a decade ago.
A meeting of the council’s planning committee was told officers had tried over a ‘sustained period of time’ to work with the landowner to clear the site which is strewn with tyres, litter, lumps of tarmac and damaged fencing. However, they said: “By early 2022 it was evident that the landowner was not going to voluntarily take the steps necessary for the condition of the land to be remedied.”
After issuing a notice of compliance demanding the site was cleaned up without success, councillors were today asked to give officers the go-ahead to clear the site themselves at an estimated cost of £3000, which they will then seek to be reimbursed by the landowner. Elected members were told approving the direct action would allow officers to give the landowner 28 days notice before they enter the site themselves.
Councillor Margot Russell told the committee the site had caused concern for local residents and community groups. She said: “It is a shame direct action has to be taken but this is a gateway site for Dalkeith, people coming into Dalkeith, that is the site they see.”
Council leader councillor Kelly Parry raised concerns that the site would, once cleared, be left to go back to being “a blight on our landscape”.
The council’s planning chief Peter Arnsdorf said the difficulty appeared to be finding an economic use for the site and one option would be the council issuing a compulsory purchase order (CPO) on the land and using it as community woodland or other purpose.
Planning convenor Councillor Russell Imrie told the committee: “If it all goes pear-shaped we can look at a CPO. We have to get heavy with people because I think they think we are a light touch. It is a gateway site and looks awful.”
Councillors approved the direct action and asked officers to look into the option of a CPO in the future.