East Lothian Council presses for new area developments such as Blindwells to be designated by Ministers as National Development.
East Lothian Council is pressing for an area of the county, which includes the planned exemplar new town at Blindwells and the former Cockenzie Power Station site, to be designated by Ministers as a National Development.
The Scottish Government has asked planning authorities to suggest projects or sites which could be given the designation in its new National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) - a long term plan for Scotland which will set out where development and infrastructure is needed to support sustainable and inclusive growth up to 2050. The former Cockenzie site is already designated a National Development under NPF3.
The council believes that National Development status for the wider area including nearby Blindwells would support ambitions for sustainable inclusive growth and an emerging vision for the area to be an influential, innovative, healthy and carbon neutral location that is a vibrant destination and attractor.
While the boundaries of the area would be subject to finalisation, the location interacts with the existing communities of Tranent, Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton and Longniddry.
Councillor Norman Hampshire, East Lothian Council spokesperson for Environment, said: “At a time when we are dealing with the immediate challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, we do also need to continue planning for the future. East Lothian is one of Scotland’s fastest growing areas. We were required to identify land for significant new housing and in doing so we want to ensure delivery of homes is linked to growing the local economy in a way that is sustainable.
“We are ambitious for East Lothian and want to see it remain as a great place in which to live and work, which is well connected with good employment opportunities and sustainability principles at its heart.
“This part of the county contains two sites – Blindwells and the former Cockenzie Power Station – which are in close proximity, as well as to existing communities, and of strategic significance to East Lothian and the wider City Region.
“Designation of the wider area as a National Development – known as ‘The Blindwells, Cockenzie and Climate Change Zone: An Area of Opportunity and Co-ordinated Action’ – would ensure we are positioned to attract inward investment and job creation.
“We want to see the new settlement at Blindwells developed as a fantastic community in which to live and work with mixed-tenure housing including affordable homes, first-class facilities and amenities, local employment opportunities, combined with a vibrant landscape. It should be a zero emissions community embracing climate change objectives and embracing blue green infrastructure and biodiversity, with significant wider improvements to local infrastructure, which includes providing more choices for walking, cycling and travelling by public transport.
“The former Cockenzie Power Station site offers significant opportunity in terms of economic development and employment and work continues to understand its potential.
“In our proposal for a National Development, we are suggesting that a Climate Change Zone is created between these sites, and including parts of, neighbouring communities and sites. There would be a focus on health and wellbeing and narrowing the inequality gap. It aims to knit the place together, balance development with enhanced green, blue and active travel networks, and to enable strong resilient communities by drawing on their identity and assets and by addressing challenges and converting them into opportunities and multiple benefits.
“We believe this wider area, part of the former East Lothian coalfield, could be one of Scotland’s top 10 locations for low carbon, sustainable inclusive growth and we are determined to grasp the opportunity. We are making our case in a submission to the Scottish Government and will be carrying out public engagement on the extent of our vision for the area in due course.”
Planning permission has been approved for an on-shore interconnector for an off-shore wind project at the former Cockenzie Power Station site. At the Blindwells Development Area 1,600 homes and 10 hectares of employment land has planning permission in principle. The remaining development in this area is at conceptual stage and requires business case development, design development and planning permissions etc.
At a meeting in February, councillors agreed to delegate authority to the Head of Development and the Cabinet Spokesperson for the Environment to finalise a response to the Scottish Government’s ‘call for ideas’ on NPF4.