The Water Tower

The Water Tower
The Water Tower at Dusk

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Letter to Local Newspaper

I have written a letter to our local newspaper which will be published tomorrow. It relates to the building that used to be the post office in Dalkeith. I wasn't against a restaurant taking the building but I did request at the time of the application that the materials and design were appropriate to this area because it is located at the entrance to Dalkeith.

 The owners of the restaurant then went on to add the most horrible slate cladding in contravention of their planning permission and this was refused by the council planning department on submission of a retrospective application.

 The restaurant appealed to the local review board. If the retrospective application had initially been refused by a full planning committee then the appeal would have been to the Department of Planning and Environment Appeals.

The Review Board is a select group of elected representatives, or councillors, who could not be expected to have anything like the experience of the Reporters at the DPEA. The board over ruled the planning committee and granted approval for the slate cladding. I do not agree with the review board and hence this letter.

I read with concern that The Local Review Board did not uphold the decision of the planning officers in refusing the use of slate cladding on a building in Dalkeith.

The review board has taken over from the old route of appeal to the DPEA for planning matters at this level. While this saves time and money it is imperative that the elected representatives on the board have as much knowledge in planning matters as possible, in order that they can make a balanced decision based on good design.
I wonder if the elected representatives were aware that this building is in an area marked for inclusion as an extension of the Eskbank and Ironmills Conservation area? I don't think they can be, because the building is now even more at odds with potential conservation status.

What might our future generation say if the site of the bus station is developed to a high specification (oh please) to find it sits beside a utilitarian building clad with shiny grey slate tiles; lit by blue, red and green fluorescent lights.

The slate cladding should have been judged by the review board for its compliance with the local plan, the setting of the adjacent listed buildings and its impact on the gateway to Dalkeith. 
In my opinion it compromises all of these and perhaps more importantly, offends the good work and funding that is currently being applied to the core of Dalkeith to bring about improvements to Dalkeith town centre.

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