WORK to create a £13 million housing development on the fringes of an East Lothian village is set to begin by 2016, if planners give it the green light.
Around 120 new homes would be built in Pencaitland – swelling the population by a fifth – as part of a move that would create 100 new jobs for the local economy.
The blueprints, submitted by West Lothian-based firm Gladman, would see major development on a 16-acre site south of the village, off Lempockwells Road.
But residents have raised fears that the housing boom – expected to add another 300 people to the area by 2018 – would overwhelm its primary schools and other local amenities. Pencaitland currently boasts a population of 1500.
The development proposes the inclusion of 30 properties that will be reserved for affordable housing.
Village stalwart Cameron Yule, 74, welcomed the housing boost but called for more investment to shore up local facilities. “Anything that brings jobs and money into the village has to be welcomed,” he said. “But I also worry how this dramatic change in the size of the village might put a lot of stress on services in the area.
“Our primary school, for example, already seems to be at capacity with a couple hundred children. If 100 new families move into the village, even half of which have a child, that might leave us in a tricky position.”
Developers have highlighted that the influx of new homes would inject an extra £208,000 of council tax receipts into East Lothian Council coffers.
Joanne Halton, a specialist with planning firm Rural Solutions Ltd – which drafted a feasibility study on behalf of Gladman – said a potential wave of new pupils would help secure the future of the village school. She said: “New homemakers in Pencaitland may help to address the downward trend in the number of children in the village, thereby helping to support the primary school in future.”
Labour councillor Shamin Akhtar, who represents the Pencaitland ward, declined to answer questions regarding the potential impact on school places and facilities, instead inviting concerned residents to take part in a consultation process currently under way.
She said: “There will be a public consultation on the major issues report, and that’s where residents across the county will have the opportunity to put forward their views.
“Those residents with concerns will have to feed into the major issues report, and there will be a public consultation on that and any potential problems. That’s where we as councillors will be looking for feedback from.
“We’ll be looking for comments right across Pencaitland, and right across the county. It’s not for us to make comment right now, but it’s for us to put out that document and reflect on what people are saying.”
East Lothian planning officials are expected to rule on Gladman’s plans by January 2015.
Meanwhile, plans have recently been lodged to create a new town boasting 1600 new homes on a former opencast mining site near Tranent. Blueprints for the 300-acre development include large community parks, a loch, a park and ride and a supermarket as well as shops and business parks.
In the past four years, East Lothian Council has overseen the completion of 1321 new properties at various sites around the county.