New housing development approved in council meeting

The development of the first phase of houses in a two decades long-awaited new town in Blindwells, East Lothian, has been given the go-ahead by councillors, following a planning committee meeting last Wednesday.

The new town – located off the A1 near Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton – is seeing the construction of 1,600 homes, a supermarket, a primary school, business units and various green spaces, as per its first set of plans.

A high-school is part of more long-term plans.

Plans for the site include 3,200 homes to be built within the next 15 years, making it the one of the largest residential developments in Scotland to be given permission for construction in years. 

A total of 480 affordable homes are being planned for the site.

Since 2013, Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd, the owner of the site, has been developing plans for the project with East Lothian Council.

Iain Slater, development and estates director for Hargreaves, said to the BBC: “We are obviously delighted that East Lothian Council has approved our application and we look forward to starting the construction work soon.”

“I would like to thank East Lothian Council for its co-operation in helping realise the original vision for a new community at Blindwells.

“East Lothian is one of the most attractive places to live in the UK, and Hargreaves has worked hard to ensure that we create a high quality new community of which the council and residents can be proud.”

Fa’side councillor, Donald Grant, the chair of the Blindwells liaison committee in 1999, said to East Lothian Courier: “At last, we have a planning application in front of us.”

“I’ve always been a supporter of Blindwells. It is a good concept and it was designed to take the pressure off Tranent, Prestonpans and Port Seton – it seemed to be a viable route to go down and I still believe that.”

Labour Party colleague, Councillor Willie Innes, expressed similar sentiments to the East Lothian Courier, and further remarked that a benefit of creating a new town is “you can start at the very beginning, take your time and, hopefully, get it right.”

However, councillors Peter MacKenzie and David Berry expressed concerns over the project. Both men are planning on stepping down from their positions in May at the local authority elections.

MacKenzie, who wanted the logistics of the project to be discussed further as he advocated for the potential construction of a footbridge over the railway, feared that the A198 was going to become very congested because of the site, a concern which Berry echoed.

MacKenzie remarked to the East Lothian Courier: “I have problems not only with that section of road but teenagers who from time to time will be coming on foot from Preston Lodge High School and then crossing the main Prestonpans road and attempting to cross this smaller section of road.”

Councillors mentioned the potential for traffic lights on the A198. Berry, who has revoked much of his support for the development, was concerned that more traffic leading to Bankton Junction would cause problems.

Image: Paul Townsend

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