Councillors give planning permission for new East Lothian town

Main Drive_rgb275The construction of a new town in East Lothian is to begin next year after councillors approved the first phase of the development.

Planning approval in principle was granted for 1,600 new homes at Blindwells, on part of a 392 acre site near Tranent.

The plans include 480 affordable homes, 25 acres of employment land and a new primary school, making it one of the largest residential developments given the go-ahead in recent years.

The approval represents the first phase of a wider masterplan for more than 3,200 homes to be developed over the next 12-15 years.

Main Drive_rgb000In the longer term the proposals include a high school, a new park and ride, a site for a new rail halt, playing fields and more than 10 miles of paths through the parkland and open space.

Developers Hargreaves Services, which owns the site, has been working on the project with East Lothian Council since 2013.

The Blindwells site, which was formerly an open cast coal mine until its closure in 2000, will require some initial consolidation work and the development of infrastructure such as roads and connections to utility networks. This work is expected to commence shortly and will require upfront capital investment by Hargreaves in groundworks and enabling infrastructure at a cost of approximately £5 million, which is expected to be funded from the Group’s existing resources. Subsequently, it is expected that Hargreaves will undertake the phased sale of residential development plots to national and local housebuilders over a number of years.

Aerial 02_rgb000Commenting on the planning approval, Iain Slater, development and estates director for Hargreaves, said: “We have worked in partnership with East Lothian Council to deliver its original vision for a new community and we are confident that Blindwells will provide a high quality lifestyle set around some of Scotland’s finest countryside. We’re delighted that the first phase has been granted planning approval in principle and we look forward to working with the Council to ensure delivery of the targeted development investment and associated benefits for East Lothian.”

Gordon Banham, chief executive officer of Hargreaves, added: “We are delighted to have secured this planning permission. It marks another important milestone in achieving the target we set ourselves to deliver £35-50m of new value from our overall property portfolio over the next five years. Blindwells is an important part of that portfolio and is an excellent and exciting site. The grant of planning permission now allows us to develop and commercialise the site and we look forward to providing further updates and information as our plans progress.”

Aerial Complete 01_rgb000 (1)James Fraser, associate director at EMA Architects, said: “This site is an important part of the future growth of East Lothian with the aspiration that Blindwells will become a desirable place to live and add to the rich character found within East Lothian.

“A garden city design has been proposed with pockets of residential development surrounded by generous open space and woodland planting, allowing all residents direct connections to these important landscape features and the extensive walking / cycle network proposed throughout the masterplan.”

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