The latest draft of the new Local Development Plan, referred to as the East Lothian Proposed Local Development Plan (“proposed LDP”), was published on the ELC website on 31 August. 2016. It and a large volume of supporting documents were considered and approved by ELC at a full Council meeting on 6 September and will now be put out for “representation” (ie further consultation) during the period 19 September to 31 October, so that interested parties can seek modifications to it. If there are unresolved representations resulting from this process, the plan will be examined by a reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers before it is finalised. This process seems likely to extend into 2018. This note is intended to offer suggestions as to how the proposed LDP seems likely to affect Dirleton.
In broad terms the proposed LDP does not suggest significant changes to what was proposed in the previous draft of the LDP published in November last year but it provides more detail. As before, the only site proposed for housing development is the one at Castlemains Place. No mention is made of the site at Foreshot Terrace / Ware Road. The proposal relating to Castlemains Place states:
Land at Castemains Place Dirleton is allocated for a residential development of circa 30 homes. Vehicular access can be provided from Castlemains Place or from Station Road. While this area is open, is part of the setting of the settlement and provides for open views to Dirleton castle on approach to the settlement, the allocated site can be developed without harming these characteristics. However, appropriate design and landscape planting and open space provision will be required to integrate development on this site.
This is similar to, but a little more detailed than, what was stated about the site in the previous draft of the LDP, but note that it refers to access being provided from both Castlemains Place and Station Road, whereas in the previous draft it was indicated that access from Station Road would not be permitted. One of the supporting documents accompanying the proposed LDP contains a series of development briefs, one for each of the housing sites proposed for development throughout the local authority area. The one for the Castlemains Place site states as follows:-
1. Access should be provided from Station Road and Castlemains Place. The existing hawthorn hedgerow along Station Road must be retained.
2. Careful and sensitive design of the built form along the southern boundary of the site must successfully integrate the development into its landscape setting. A landscape edge incorporating a beech hedgerow and occasional specimen trees to frame built form should be created on this south boundary. Views across the site to Dirleton Castle from the A198 must be maintained. The south-western portion of the site should be left as open space.
3. The existing trees and beech hedgerow that enclose the north boundary of the site are to be retained and enhanced to provide a robust landscaped edge, which may include a landscaped swale or linear detention feature. The built form of the development on this part of the site must have frontages that reflect the scale and character of the built form along the north side of Castlemains Place.
4. Buildings of 1.5 storey in height may be acceptable on the northern part of the site where ground levels are lower. Otherwise, and to maintain key views across the site, buildings should be no higher than single storey in height. Roofs of buildings should be clad with either pantile or slate. The external walls of the building should be of muted colour palette to be agreed in advance by the Planning Authority. The buildings should be grouped together according to roofing materials to avoid pepper-potting throughout the site. The layout of the site must be in keeping with the village grain with a variety of terrace, semi detached and detached buildings. Streets and spaces should be positioned and orientated to frame views through the site west to Dirleton Castle and east to North Berwick Law.
5. An open space of at least 60m by 40m is to be located in the western part of the site, adjoining and enhancing the existing area of open space immediately to the north of the site at the western end of Castlemains Place to create a village green. Buildings should front onto and overlook this area of enlarged open space. A landscaped swale or well-designed and well-landscaped SUDS could be incorporated into the area of open space. Footpath connections from the area of open space through the site and beyond to link with the existing path network must be provided. The electricity line that runs across the site must be undergrounded.
These requirements seem to conflict to a significant extent with the proposals put forward by CALA in their planning application for the site and it remains to be seen if and how the conflicting requirements and proposals can be reconciled. The brief does not cover the questions of traffic noise affecting houses on the site and intrusion into the views eastwards from the castle, which have been referred to in letters of objection sent in by the DVA and by village residents. These omissions have been brought to the Council’s attention in supplementary letters of objection.
Countryside Around Towns policy
Looking beyond the Castlemains site, the section of the proposed LDP relating to the Countryside Around Towns policy seems likely to offer the prospect of long term protection for Dirleton’s rural setting. It contains the following statement:-
There are a number of areas beyond the Edinburgh Green Belt that are ….. subject to development pressure but should be retained as open or undeveloped. Countryside Around Towns designations will apply and their objectives will be to conserve the landscape setting, character or identity of certain towns and villages.
The document then sets out the following details regarding development in the areas affected by this policy:-
Development that would harm Countryside Around Towns objectives as defined in supplementary planning guidance once adopted will not be permitted. New development within areas designated as Countryside Around Towns will be supported in principle only where:
i) it is required to implement part of the green network strategy as defined by that strategy;
ii) it is required for community uses;
iii) it is required for rural business, tourism or leisure related use;
iv) it is essential infrastructure that has a clear operational requirement for that particular location and there is no other suitable site available.
Any new development must not harm the landscape setting of the countryside location and must be of a scale, size and form that would not harm the objectives for the Countryside Around Towns designation.
Supplementary planning guidance referring to this policy is set out in a technical note approved by the Council at their meeting on 6 September. As regards Dirleton the guidance and a relevant map can be seen by clicking on the section - ELC Countryside Around Towns Policy - Dirleton