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The currently protected route © Midlothian Council

Midlothian to Scrap A701 Bypass Protection

Midlothian Council are set to abandon the protected routing on the new A701 bypass, following indications of expansion from a local business.

Councillors are set to throw out a section of their 2008 local development plan in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, scrapping the proposed route of the controversial new thoroughfare.

First proposed before the new millennium, the council’s proposals to route an A701 bypass through woodland to the west of woodland at Bilston have come under criticism. Now, several decades later, the protected route, which was enacted in 2008’s Local Development Plan (LDP), looks set to be discarded. In a report published to Midlothian Council’s website, Head of Communities and Economy, Ian Johnson, recommends that councillors vote to remove the route safeguarding in order to retain a local employer:

At one point, the protected road line runs adjacent to a long-established and successful employer which wishes to further develop their business and to expand their premises onto land which is currently protected for the A701 realignment. The land is in the ownership of the Council and negotiated heads of terms for its disposal have been agreed. To await the formal conclusion of local development plan procedures runs a significant risk of delay to the extent that the existing business may be constrained to relocate, possibly outwith Midlothian.

A planning application for the modification of the A701 and surrounding routes was given permission by Scottish ministers in 2000 however the only alteration to be constructed was the Gowkley Moss roundabout. The new road would have run north of this traveling parallel to the current A701 before crossing the old route at Loanhead and proceeding north over greenbelt land ultimately terminating at a new junction with the A720. Since the enforcement of the LDP, development of the land surrounding the proposed route has been forbidden.

Under the plans for abandonment, applications for redevelopment of the land will now be considered, though much will still lie in a protected greenbelt policy zone. It is unknown which business is wanting to expand.

Mr Johnson also adds that the forthcoming LDP will safeguard a new route to the west of Bilston and as such the currently enacted road will be superseded come Scottish Government approval in August 2016. However it is stressed that the council cannot wait until next year to remove the protection or they will risk losing the employer.

The report and its recommendations will be debated by the county’s councillors in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday 17 November.