Please Help Save Our Beautiful Hills From Development

One of the main attractions of moving to the hamlet of Nine Mile Burn was it’s peaceful location at the quieter end of The Pentland Hills Regional Park. We’re lucky to be part of a wonderful small community in an area of historical importance (we live along an old Roman Road) and undisputed natural beauty that is much enjoyed by ourselves and regular visitors and hill walkers seeking the tranquility that is on offer just on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Sadly, it’s currently under threat of development by a local landowner who wishes to host quad biking, 4×4 off-roading, clay pigeon shooting, archery and Highland Games for stag/hen parties and corporate events for a large part of the year.

Naturally we are horrified at the thought of the degradation to the environment, the landscape and wildlife, let alone the noise pollution and the effects to our quiet community and those that seek the peace that these hills provide.

We also very strongly believe this proposal to be the very tip of the iceberg in terms of what the applicant is planning and that by starting on a smaller scale they hope to more easily gain approval for further plans. (they are property developers and know their onions!)

So, now we’re taking a leaf out of the applicant’s own book (they’ve been asking family and friends to post comments in favour of their application, regardless of whether they live in the community, or even this country for that matter)!

As a matter of interest the applicant received £46,000 in subsidies from the EU/UK in 2015 (in the top 15% for the area). Supporters state that the applicant has planted trees and created ponds to encourage wildlife and that it takes money to maintain the landscape – arguably that is precisely why this funding was provided. This new proposal can only lead to the destruction of the land, fragile ecosystems and wildlife habitats for the benefit of a few thrill-seeking individuals and at the expense of everyone else.

If you care in any way about protecting our environment from commercial enterprises such as this for ourselves and generations to come then please take 2 minutes to copy and paste the objection text highlighted in bold below and register it here:

(You will need to create a log-in but it will only take a minute) Of course you’re very welcome to write you’re own but we just thought we’d help out with all the salient points as to where the proposal contravenes the Midlothian Development Guidelines and the aims of the Pentland Hills Regional Park.

Please, please help us to prevent this! Together we can, hopefully, prevent this awful proposal going ahead and creating a precedent in other regional parks and green spaces. The thought of which doesn’t bear thinking about.


Dear Sir/Madam,

I wish to register an objection to Application 18/00001/DPP under the grounds that the proposed development is not in accordance with the aims of the PHRP or the Midlothian Local Development Plan 2017.

The Pentland Hills Regional Park is an important recreational and environmental asset to the area and the nearby city of Edinburgh and is enjoyed by many for it’s tranquility and natural beauty. The PHRP is a designated non-motorised region.

The aims of the PHRP as set out on its website are:

– To retain the essential character of the hills as a place for the peaceful enjoyment of the countryside

– Caring for the hills so that the landscape and the habitat is protected and enhanced

– Within this caring framework to encourage responsible public enjoyment of the hills

– Coordination of these aims so that they can co-exist with farming and other land uses within the park. 

Appendix 6 to the Midlothian Council Development Plan adopted in November 2017, sets out a range of specific planning policy considerations applying within its boundary. Paragraphs 1, 2 (a), (b) and (c), 7 & 8 (and responses to each point below)  state:

“1. The Special Landscape Area designation affecting the Pentland Hills Regional Park will be the overriding factor when considering proposals which may be acceptable under other MLDP policies.”

In considering this application regard must be had to the designation criteria for SLA/Local Landscape Area status and in particular:

“-help to protect a landscape from inappropriate development

– may encourage positive landscape management

– play an important role in developing an awareness of the landscape qualities that make particular areas distinctive

– promote a community’s sense of pride in its surroundings”

 This application does not achieve or address any of these objectives.

“2. Development, redevelopment and the conversion of existing buildings within the Regional Park will not be permitted unless essential for the purposes of agriculture (including farm-related diversification), forestry, outdoor recreation, tourism or other rural activities compatible with the aims of the Regional Park.”

Use of the word “essential” imposes a very high threshold for permissible development within the Park. The material submitted in support of the application makes no attempt to justify the development as “essential”. Mere economic advantage to a landowner/developer does not render a development “essential”. In the absence of any evidence to satisfy the Council’s specific policy on this point the application must, as a matter of law, fall to be refused.

“Any such development proposal will be considered against the following criteria:

a) it should make a positive contribution to the amenity of the Park in terms of design and landscaping;”

The contribution of the proposed development to the amenity of the Park is entirely negative. The area proposed for 4 x 4/Quad bike activity is highly visible from the hills above. It will involve unsightly scarring of the surface with the formation of tracks and will generate a great deal of noise. This activity is essentially inappropriate within the Park. The proposed car park for 15 cars and the proposed use of “metal containers” and portaloos will represent an eyesore and will detract materially from the amenity of the Park and the approach to it through Spittal Farm. It should be a requirement of any grant of consent in terms of this application (a) that any new buildings be of traditional construction in line with the existing farm and other buildings and (b) that any such new buildings and the proposed car park should be appropriately screened to minimise their impact on the amenity of the Park.

“b) it should not be visually obtrusive or necessitate visually obtrusive constructions;”

As set out above the area proposed for 4 x 4/Quad bike activity and the metal containers, portaloos and car parking area will all be visually obtrusive. While screening of the containers and car parking might be possible there is no practicable way in which the 4 x 4 area can be screened to reduce visual and/or noise related impact.

“c) it should be compatible with existing adjoining and neighbouring developments and uses;”

The proposed development is incompatible with the current non-motorised recreational use of the PHRP and in particular is incompatible with the quality of peacefulness which is a major attraction of the Park.

“7. Intrusive tourist developments, including static and transit caravan and camping sites, will not be permitted within the Regional Park.”

The proposed development represents an “intrusive tourist development”. As such this policy consideration requires refusal of consent.

“8. Public car parks will be provided only on the periphery of the Regional Park. They must be related to specific recreational opportunities and will be designed to integrate with the landscape and character of each particular location.”

The proposed 15 car parking area will be available for use by such members of the public as may use the proposed recreational facility. As such this policy consideration applies to it. No steps, such as landscaping or screening, are proposed to achieve the required integration with the landscape and character of the location.

To summarise – the key policies relating to this application are RD1: Development in the Countryside and RD3: PHRP

RD1 states that development in the countryside must be:

“of a scale and character appropriate to the rural area and well integrated into the rural landscape”

It can be clearly seen that this proposal does not meet these requirements

RD1 also states that the amenity must be

“capable of being serviced with an adequate and appropriate access”

The Old Roman Road is a single track pavementless road of historical significance that faces degradation from a significant upturn in traffic to the area. The increase of traffic also presents a risk to residents, children, pets and hill walkers alike.

Additionally, RD1 states that it must be

“capable of being provided with drainage and a public water supply at reasonable cost, or an acceptable private water supply. Development must protect and where appropriate improve the water environment, avoiding unacceptable and unnecessary surface and foul water discharges to Watercourses”

There is no mention in this proposal of water supply/discharge despite the application for an onsite canteen. There is also no mention of fuel storage and the health and safety factors associated with this.

4. “accessible by public transport and services (where appropriate), either within 1,600 metres (1 mile) of a settlement or a bus route with a frequency of at least 1 bus per hour.​”

The Stagecoach 101/102 bus that services Nine Mile Burn does not run at the frequency required of a least one bus per hour throughout the day. There are only four buses running in total on a Sunday. As such this does not meet the requirements.

On all of these grounds I object to this application and urge you to reject it in accordance with MLDP 2017 Policy.

Yours Faithfully



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