Midlothian 'zero carbon' office development seeks planning permission

By Peter A Walker

An application for Planning in Principle for Melville Gate, a 'zero carbon' business park in Midlothian, is due to be placed before councillors this week.

The proposals for the allocated economic development land comprise four office buildings of two and three storeys of approximately 70,000 square feet in total, provision of 295 parking spaces and a new vehicle access from Gilmerton Road, near Lasswade.

Development consultants Advie Properties has drawn up proposals in line with the Advanced Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework, including on-site power generation, non-CO2 emitting fuel sources, waste management and recycling, sustainable building methods and locally-sourced, renewable materials.

The site was identified by Midlothian Council as suitable for business use more than 12 years ago.

Its sensitive location within the Green Belt requires that the building designs respond to the rural surroundings. Natural screening from established and proposed tree planting is planned to minimise the visual impact.

Once constructed, the business park will be targeted at local businesses which have a ‘green’ agenda.

The application is led by James Barnes, director of landowners Melville Nursery.

He was chief executive of the Barnes family owned Dobbies Garden Centres between 1989 and 2013. He was also a non-executive director of the Business Partnership - formally Midlothian Enterprise Trust - for 20 years, and lived with his family in Eskbank for 16 years.

Barnes said: “The area of land we are proposing for the development of Melville Gate business park was cut off from the rest of Melville Nursery by the construction of the A7.

“Zoned for business use by Midlothian Council for many years, its location is perfect for an easily accessible ‘zero-carbon’ office development that will meet the current demand for small, flexible office spaces in a positive environment in a post pandemic world.

“Melville Nursery is currently in the process of its own development, into a large wholesale plant nursery, so the teams behind Melville Gate and Melville Nursery are working together to cross fund the infrastructure for both projects.”

Stuart Wright, director at Advie Properties, said: “The pre-application feedback for Melville Gate’s office buildings on the site was largely supportive.

“Any concerns raised by Midlothian Council, Community Councils’ and other interested parties have been acknowledged, taken on-board and incorporated into the proposals.”

He added: “Companies are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibilities to invest in solutions to the various crises which face the planet right now and in the future, so the buildings and infrastructure at Melville Gate will be designed and specified to ensure that sound and sustainable principles are adhered to - ensuring the built environment is created in this way should guarantee the overall success of the development.”

The application for Planning in Principle for the Melville Gate development was registered on 15 December 2020.

There have since been a couple of agreed extensions to the application determining period due to the pandemic. However, the development team hope that the application will be determined by this November.

The development team for Melville Gate include Mill Architects, Goodson Associates as engineers, Harrison Stevens as landscape architects, ITP Energise as environmental consultants and JLL as commercial property consultants.

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