East Lothian calls for ‘infrastructure first’ approach to housing allocations

East Lothian Council has agreed to its response to a Scottish Government consultation on establishing minimum housing land requirements for inclusion in National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4).

The council has agreed that an “infrastructure first” approach to future development is required.

NPF4 will set minimum housing land requirements for all types of homes by local authority area.

The council said it has agreed to strongly oppose an alternative methodology that suggests a minimum requirement figure of around 12,000 houses for East Lothian over a ten year period, saying that it “goes against the broad principles of the planning process”.

The Scottish Government’s methodology and the council’s own more detailed assessment of existing housing need in East Lothian results in a figure of 6,400 houses being identified for East Lothian over the ten year plan period of NPF4.

A significant proportion of the homes that make up this requirement have already been identified in the 2018 East Lothian Local Development Plan. The plan will be refreshed and updated as part of the forthcoming East Lothian Local Development Plan 2, which will also identify the most appropriate locations for any new housing allocations that may be required.

Councillors have agreed to include 6,400 houses in the response to the Scottish Government and to highlight the need for an ‘infrastructure first’ approach to future development, as already promoted by the six South East Scotland local authorities.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, cabinet spokesperson for the environment, said: “For many years East Lothian has been one of Scotland’s fastest-growing areas. While this presents tremendous opportunities in terms of the potential to grow the local economy, develop skills and provide quality employment, there are of course a number of challenges.

“We have always responded constructively to what is required of us at a national level, taking a collaborative and analytical approach in preparing our local development plan to ensure land is allocated appropriately, taking account the needs of our existing and growing local communities.

“A significant amount of land has already been allocated for new housing in East Lothian. Our response to the Scottish Government consultation on establishing the minimum housing land requirements as part of National Planning Framework 4 is an opportunity to ensure that our work to date is taken into account, while highlighting the need to ensure that providing the required infrastructure for local people is the foremost consideration when looking at future development allocations.”

He added: “We must embrace opportunities for economic growth presented by the former Cockenzie Power Station site, the new settlement at Blindwells, and development at Queen Margaret University.

“In doing so, it is vital that new housing meets the needs of the community - with appropriate transport, education and other public services in place – while ensuring availability of different property types which are genuinely affordable, particularly for younger people.”

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