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Feature: The Expansion Starts Now

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With Taylor Wimpey commencing construction of 458 new dwellings, we look at the development, its impact on the community and how it will usher in the era of new housing in Penicuik.

Taylor Wimpey took the reigns of the Greenlaw Mill site after the merger of George Wimpey and Taylor Woodrow, years after George Wimpey orginally applied for permission to build several hundred homes on the land designated for housing under the Midlothian Local Plan. Their  resurrected plans doubled the size of the development and, unsurprisingly, provoked a strong reply from the neighbouring residents in Belwood and Greenlaw Mains One. However after nine months of discussions and negotiations the house builder withdrew their application and downsized by sixty-one properties to 458 houses and flats. Whilst still disputed, this application opened up more of the land which residents have come to know and love, and increased a boundary between the existing and new properties. The planning body at Midlothian Council liked the application, even though they always would, and planning was granted in February of this year, subject to the signing of a section 75 legal agreement. Now we’re six months on, almost to the date, and Taylor Wimpey are in the process of ‘securing the site’. As the lush land turns to dirt, it is hard to see what will be but don’t get us wrong, this isn’t a housing development to extend the existing, this a new community.

In five years time, 458 dwellings will stand tall on the former mining site. A legacy of Penicuik’s mining past is promised throughout however new residents will be hoping that evidence of any mine workings will be long gone. An expanse area of grassed land will sweep throughout the heart of the site, splitting the community in two. Beyond this, utopia style ‘driving free’ zones will link houses to the land, past symmetrical rows of residences, facades rough with the original stone of the area. Flying through the remainder of ‘Greenlaw Mill’, we will pass a crèche and a convenience store, the regular bus will drift past before heading out the bus gate onto Belwood Road. Screams of joy will be heard from the play park, which adorns a prominent site upon the entrance to the community, the burn flowing past undeterred. Zooming out we no longer see a lush habitat of wildlife and shrubbery but a bustling hive of new life.

But this is now and Wimpey have marked their territory. A day after we confirmed they would arrive ‘imminently’, Taylor Wimpey’s sub-contractor was onsite clearing a trench behind existing properties on Boyd Orr Drive. On Monday 19 the fencing went up and it was known that the works were commencing. However residents were left dumb-founded at the lack of notice; many suggested that Wimpey did not actually have permissions to carry out the works; Midlothian Council quashed this stating that the final permission had been granted with the signing of the legal agreement. This was revealed in a leaked email from the council to concerned residents:

You should be aware that the legal agreement has been finalised and the package of pre development conditions is being prepared for delivery to the case officer.

They continued to state that the works were permitted because of the signing of this agreement:

Under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland ) Legislation the developer is permitted to carry out certain temporary works on a site when there is a planning permission for development so although the fencing was commenced a few days ago [,] the development was minded for approval and the legal agreement [,] having been signed [,] enables release of the permission.

Although, theses ‘temporary works’ only cover certain alterations and it is possible that Wimpey are in breach of the legislation. Mr Ryan Barker, Assistant Design and Planning Executive for Taylor Wimpey, told Midlothian Council, and in turn residents that a single JCB was onsite:

We travelled over to the Penicuik development today to see what was going on and can confirm at present we do have a JCB on site to assist in the securing of the development only.
As you are aware there are area’s overgrown on site that are more difficult to get too and the JCB is creating a suitable temporary platform to allow the securing of the Herras fencing that is being erected for health and safety reasons which is priority for TW.
This statement seems to have further mislead residents, with user submitted videos and images clearly showing more than a ‘single JCB’ working on the site. One of these videos can be viewed below:



We’ve learnt that residents only received word of the commencement of works after they had started. Midlothian Council are yet to update their planning portal with the new updated status of the site. It is yet to be seen whether the agreement has been officially signed but if so, it will have major implications upon Penicuik.


The section seventy-five legal agreement not only decides the developer’s contributions to the local economy but also the number of council owned dwellings situated within the site along with the compulsory updates to infrastructure that Wimpey will fund. Starting with the local infrastructure, Wimpey will need to contribute to the creation of a new roundabout connecting Mauricewood Road and the A702. At the other end of Mauricewood Road, signalisation of the busy T-Junction will also need to be carried out. The transport assessors told the council that there would be little impact on Penicuik’s roads and therefore we do not expect there to be any further contributions to the local infrastructure. On to schooling and a major shake up will be required. Primary school wise this means a two classroom extension to Mauricewood Primary however according to a submitted document, TW will pay (Sandra Banks, MC Education, speaking):

With regards to primary education, a contribution equivalent to an extension of 2 classrooms and for ancillary accommodation at Mauricewood Primary School would be required.

The much disputed secondary schooling will be affected greatly. Beeslack CHS will not be the school of choice for the new development. Of the houses being built, 324 of the houses’ teenage children will go to Penicuik High School under plans for a Catchment Zone review.  The remaining 134 houses’ children will go to Beeslack but as Beeslack is already operating at full capacity, an extension will be required. Wimpey will also have to pay for this:

With regards to secondary school education the applicant will be required to contribute towards the consequential cost of any additional secondary school accommodation as part of the Section 75 legal planning agreement.

As previously mentioned, a ‘commercial zone’ is planned. It will be subject to a separate planning application, which is yet to be submitted, and may not be submitted until it is required half way through the development. It will be the centre of the development with five units, one of which will be a creche and another a convenience store. The developer may be hiding behind this to avoid a major contribution to Penicuik’s economy, however a contribution is still likely and will be welcomed considering that the new local plan states that we’re going to have to build at least one new retail store. Artwork relevant to the site’s past will stand proud in the ‘commercial zone’ if it comes to fruition.

Penultimately it is on to the developer requirements for social and affordable housing. This controversial decision will also have been decided upon in the legal agreement, even though we do have an idea of what the outcome will be. We are expecting eighty-seven social dwellings, most of which will be flats and situated in the south of the development. ‘Ghetto’ fears were expressed by the community council and it is entirely possible that social housing may have been removed due to plans to fill three Penicuik gap sites with council owned properties.


The section seventy-five legal agreement is a milestone document which will make or break this development. If social and affordable housing numbers are too high, the neighbouring community may object strongly to the council and Taylor Wimpey could struggle to attract buyers. If the contributions to the local infrastructure are too low, the influx in traffic could cause long delays during rush hour. If the contributions to the local economy are too low, Penicuik’s businesses may miss the opportunity to capitalise on the increased traffic. We won’t know the outcome for some time, and it may be more likely that you’ll see the roadworks before you read about them, but it is a document that will be eagerly awaited by many.


You may choose to believe that once ‘Greenlaw Mill’ is complete Penicuik will be left to adjust to its new populate, but there will be little or no time between developments as the homebuilder circus rolls into town. To the north of ‘Greenlaw Mill’ we will have Mactaggart & Mickel and to the west Mac&Mic will again build more homes along with Thomas Mitchell and Cala Homes. These are all subject to planning consent but with the land allocated, it is only the numbers which are under discussion. The developments themselves are a foregone conclusion. Heading southeast to Dalmore Mill in Auchendinny, Miller and Thomas Mitchell Homes will continue to build thirty-four homes. North of this Midlothian Council hopes to open up farm land to housing developers under the new local development plan. At Bush, a whole barrage of developers aim to build hundreds of homes, if they get past planning. That is but only a taster of what is planned for the Penicuik area but it is enough to show you that Taylor Wimpey’s ‘Greenlaw Mill’ is not a one off, it is not an extension of Greenlaw Mains but the first development which will lead to the dramatic expansion of Penicuik.

Relive the development of the Greenlaw Mill story at the top of the post in our timeline. Interact to view all our articles since the plans were lodged in 2012.

Wimpey construction updates will continue over on our Facebook page. Click here to visit it.


[Thank you to everyone for your contributions]