Midmar Paddock is much-valued local amenity. Although contiguous with Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill, it is privately owned. It is (or should be) protected from housing development by being designated in the Local Development Plan (LDP) as Greenbelt, Open Space, a Special Landscape Area and a Local Nature Conservation Site. During the consultation on the LDP in 2014/15, a representation was made to re-schedule it for housing. We (and many others) objected and the designations were retained. Since then the site has been twice advertised for sale as a “development opportunity”. There has been no outcome in terms of a planning application but local residents are concerned that this will eventually be tried – despite the theoretical bar on development. Moreover, we have to anticipate that the next revision of the LDP will provoke another attempt to remove the protective designations. At a public meeting on 18 September, chaired by Cllr Neil Ross, a Friends of Midmar Paddock group was formed with the support of local politicians across parties. A brief report on the meeting is given below.
You can contact the group by e-mail at email@example.com or visit the Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/midmarpaddock/?__tn__=HHH-R
Report of the meeting held to launch the Friends of Midmar Paddock on Tuesday 18 September at Morningside Parish Church
Councillor Neil Ross, together with local residents, had called the meeting to set up the Friends group. As around 180 people turned up on the night, it was not possible to hold the meeting as planned in the Braid Hall and, instead, it was held in the church.
Councillor Ross chaired the meeting and introduced Goff Cantley and Iain Meiklejohn as fellow local residents and Midmar Paddock campaigners. He outlined the current ownership of the Paddock, the threat arising from a sale of the land, the need for a Friends group and the tasks that lie ahead. He suggested that the aim of the group should be to protect the Paddock and to secure long term access for the community by challenging any planning application and responding to the current review of the Local Development Plan. He said the group may also explore Rights of Way and other options, including Community Right to Buy.
Goff Cantley, a trustee of the Friends of the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill and Planning Officer for Morningside Community Council, confirmed that the Paddock is currently designated as Green Belt, Open Space, a Special Landscape Area and a Local Nature Conservation Site. He outlined the recent planning history of the Paddock, including the challenge made by the owners to the last Local Development Plan, which was successfully resisted on appeal to the Scottish Government Reporter. He then reminded everyone that the consultation process for the next Local Development Plan has started and we must all be ready to write in again to defend the Paddock when the time comes.
Local politicians were then invited to contribute and Daniel Johnson MSP, Alison Johnstone MSP and Councillors Nick Cook, Melanie Main and Mandy Watt all spoke of the importance of protecting the Paddock and encouraging the group. Apologies were noted from Andy Wightman MSP, Jeremy Balfour MSP, Gordon Lishman MSP and Kezia Dugdale MSP. Apologies and a message of support was read out from Ian Murray MP.
The meeting was then opened for questions from the floor. Topics for questions included:
1) issues surrounding possible purchase of the Paddock and Community Buy Out;
2) the value of the land;
3) the possibility of dialogue with the owners;
4) had any ecological surveys been done;
5) the potential for claiming Rights of Way and how to do this;
6) how to spread the word about any campaigns;
7) the immediate tasks for the Friends group.
The meeting ended with a show of hands against any residential development in the Paddock (there were no hands in favour). A meeting was then arranged on 2 October for volunteers to form the Friends Group.