Woodland and greenspace improvements made to Haddington housing plans
East Lothian Council has made changes to proposals for the redevelopment of the former Herdmanflat hospital site in Haddington following a three-month public consultation.
The council purchased the site from NHS Lothian in April 2020 with support from the Scottish Government, when the hospital’s services moved to the new East Lothian Community Hospital.
The initial proposals focused on agreeing a masterplan for the development which will hopefully see much needed affordable housing for older people as well as the opportunity to meet the needs of the wider community within East Lothian. The local authority is looking at a mix of affordable new build and refurbished properties that will assist in meeting East Lothian’s growing demand.
The consultation involved direct engagement with key local groups, a series of drop-in events for members of the public and an online survey. There were 38 responses to the online survey, around 200 people attended the drop-in events and other meetings and around 50 people attended a presentation to Haddington Central Tenants & Residents’ Association.
One example of a concern raised and how it has been addressed relates to the desire from local residents to retain woodland, trees and greenspace.
In the report, the council states: “Our number one priority is to provide affordable housing as sensitively as possible. Our plans are focused on keeping tree loss to an absolute minimum. Retention of Category A trees remains the priority and tree removal will only be proposed where absolutely necessary. This approach means we will not be able to build as many affordable houses, but we agree with you that the trees are especially important. We indicated at the start of the consultation where the root protection areas are, and we have shown how we will be able to work within the existing landscape and that there will be no tree losses associated with new buildings.
“We have already completed essential tree maintenance and invested in site wide crown lifting across the site. Crown lifting raises the tree canopy to improve light, improve views and lessen the risk of branches falling. It also makes it easier for people to walk there safely. Improving light through the canopy is important to support and increase biodiversity, not only stimulating plant growth but making the environment below more attractive to wildlife, insects, and species of butterflies.
“There will still be lots of greenspace, especially in the middle of the site. We will be introducing more paths and access points into the site to make sure local people can access the greenspace more easily. The woodland paths will be upgraded to make them accessible to more people.”
A planning application in principle will be lodged in due course, at which point people will be able to give any further views and comments through the planning process.
Oberlanders Architects is working with East Lothian Council and Hub South East on the plans.