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Construction of Controversial Social Housing Imminent

Midlothian Council reveals that new social housing developments could start construction as soon as June but extended plans for Penicuik may be causing problems for Taylor Wimpey.

Controversial plans to build more than 111 additional social dwellings in Penicuik are set to materialise within the next two months and could cause disruption until the end of 2017.

The council’s highly controversial plans to build 14 social dwellings on the former Jackson Street school site in the centre of Penicuik along with 17 houses and flats on land neighbouring the Craigiebield House Hotel could evolve into onsite construction soon, after Midlothian Council reached the final stages of tendering out the contract to build the new homes.

In a report submitted to the council’s “Performance Review and Scrutiny Committee” MC say that construction could start on three sites, Jackson Street, Craigiebield and Eastfield Drive, in June with construction set to complete in March of next year. Other developments are held back till 2015, the earliest, Eastfield Farm Rd, starting in May with construction continuing until March 2016. The largest of the planned developments, encompassing 35 dwellings, has a construction timeline spanning 19 months and aims to break ground in the October of 2015. This development, located off Kirkhill Road could be used as to accommodate disabled ex-servicemen as part of the Houses for Heroes scheme however, as the document states:

It should be noted both these sites are on the Council’s agreed preferred list of sites for Mainstream Housing.

As such, it is likely the development will further expand Midlothian Council’s social housing portfolio.

Despite these new developments, Midlothian Council still hopes to place 87 social dwellings into the centre of Taylor Wimpey’s Greenlaw Mill development. This is a move which may be causing difficulties in signing a landmark section 75 legal agreement which will pave the way to build 458 homes in the north West of Penicuik. In this agreement both the developer, Taylor Wimpey, and Midlothian Council must agree on the developer’s contributions to education, the local infrastructure and social housing. Planning documents for the Greenlaw Mill site show that the council aim for 87 homes, a move which the community council has branded as creating a “Ghetto”.

Further plans exist to create social housing in other private developments in the west and north of the town, however the council must wait for a these developers, thought to include Cala Homes and Mactaggart and Mickel, to submit new applications. These new applications are due within the next seven months.

An increase in housing, regardless of its nature, is controversial with most applications inspiring a great public backlash. Seventy five residents surrounding the council’s Craigiebield House Hotel objected to proposals, including the neighbouring hotel, however the council granted their proposals. Also of high contention was the housing on the former Jackson Street school site. It is a site of great historical significance and as such drew criticism after the council’s architects submitted plans for a modern development which is a stark contrast to the opposite conservation area.

The start of construction of these new properties in June will give way to years of development in Penicuik. Taylor Wimpey say that construction will be finished in 2026 at the earliest, and with some of the forthcoming developments being double the size of this 458 house proposal, it is likely that once construction begins, Penicuik all be under the influence of new developments until 2030.

What do you think? Will there be too much social housing? Do you welcome how the council may be considering new homes for disabled ex-servicemen? Are you afraid of what the new Penicuik will look like? Tell us below or email us at

[Image © Midlothian Council]