West Lothian housing developer appeals after farmland plan refused by council
A land management company has appealed against West Lothian Council’s rejection of plans to build on 20 acres of prime farmland in East Calder.
The council’s Development Management Committee published notice of the appeal to the Scottish Government in its papers for the meeting at the end of the April, less than four months after the full council rejected the Hallam proposal.
It is the latest site contested by developers vying for prime housing sites in the county.
Hallam Land Management sought outline planning consent for the 20 acres - to build around 90 homes - on what is currently farmland on the edge of East Calder at Oakbank Road.
Agents for Hallam argued that the site represented a natural extension for the settlement of East Calder. They also argued that the council does not have sufficient land set aside for housing demand.
This is disputed by the council. However other developers have used the argument successfully. Last month, a Reporter from the Scottish Government’s Planning Appeals division (DPEA) cast aside the council and objections from local people to overturn a decision against building more than 100 homes in open countryside off Hen’s Nest Road, East Whitburn.
Local councillors said existing infrastructure could not cope with extra housing on the A71 route into the capital.
Hallam suggested at the time it was providing a need where the demand was at its highest, close to transport links. It pointed out that among statutory consultations there were no objections from council departments such as roads, which had suggested that conditions could be added to consent.
Nevertheless there were 18 objections to the plans including from East Calder Community Council protesting at the loss of open countryside.
A meeting of the West Lothian Council Planning Committee threw out the plan in December.
Ward councillors, Conservative Damian Doran-Timson and the SNP’s Carl John moved and seconded a motion against the plans citing the strain on the surrounding infrastructure.
“The infrastructure around East Calder is grinding to a halt," said Councillor Doran-Timson.
Councillor John added: “Out of 3,000 houses planned for the area only 1,000 have been built and traffic on the A71 is nose to tail as it is. The A71 is a major problem that the council, the Scottish Government, someone has to sort this out.”
Bathgate Councillor Willie Boyle had asked the developer’s agents for specifics regarding carbon emissions and sustainability of the development. Unsatisfied with the answers, he branded the plans “purely speculative”.
Last month the Scottish Office planning appeals process was branded a “lottery” for the inconsistency of policy regarding planning and the frequent overturning of locally made decisions.