Travellers’ site will hit house prices, residents warn

Muirpark Steading. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Muirpark Steading. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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RESIDENTS will today ask councillors to throw out a planning application for a travellers’ site – claiming the facility will hit house prices.

Planning officials have recommended the granting of consent for the four-pitch site outside Tranent.

We see it as totally ignoring the planning rules. If it gets approval now, it gives the green light for not following procedure.

David Forrest

But Tranent and Elphinstone Community Council has objected that it was built without permission – and approving it now would encourage people to flout accepted procedures.

A deputation from the community council will make representations to East Lothian Council’s planning committee today.

There have been a total of 45 objections to the application at Muirpark Steading, off the A199 between Tranent and Macmerry. Grounds for objection include claims the site is not suitable for such development; the use of the site would have a detrimental effect on Tranent; it presents a road safety hazard; and it would have an impact on house prices.

The application includes four permanent pitches for three caravans each; an amenity block for use as shower/toilet and kitchen facilities; erection of a bin store; fencing; formation of hardstanding areas; and installation of lighting.

Community council chairman David Forrest said there had been caravans there since the summer and he claimed the travellers had “totally ignored “ planning rules. He said: “The community council is against it, mainly because it has been built without planning permission. We see it as totally ignoring the planning rules. If it gets approval now, it gives the green light for not following procedure.

“We’ve nothing against the people. We’ve not had any bother or anything unfavourable happening.

“But people have to jump through hoops to get permission for conservatories and so on, but they just went ahead and acquired this land and built on it and are now saying ‘give us planning permission’.”

The applicants, described as a “gypsy/traveller family”, say it is needed because “there is no safe, secure, suitable, equitable alternative authorised site in East Lothian”.

Shamin Akhtar, Labour councillor for Fa’side ward, which includes the site, said the objections focused on the lack of proper planning consent, not the people or even the suitability of the site.

“There is not any issue with individuals, the concerns seem to be about the issue of planning permission.”

Recommeding approval, officials say the site meets official guidelines, is mostly hidden from public views, has good transport links to other towns and villages and is within reasonable reach of schools and community facilities.

East Lothian has another travellers’ site in Whitecraig, which it operates jointly with Midlothian Council. The site ocupies countryside between Macmerry with Tranent to the west.