Boatyard plans sunk
The Cockenzie boat yard site won't be turned into flats, much to the relief of John Simpson (pictured below)
A CONTROVERSIAL plan to demolish Cockenzie Boat Repair Yard and replace it with 26 flats has been thrown out by councillors.
Members of East Lothian Council's new planning committee called instead for a community-driven redevelopment of the historic site.
Just a few months ago, before the local election, the local authority had planned to buy the proposed flats development - once it was completed - and use it for affordable housing.
But just one of 10 new committee members voted last Wednesday in favour of the proposal by Morris & Spottiswood. Planning officials had recommended that consent be granted.
Stewart Adams, development manager with Morris & Spottiswood, told last week's meeting: "The property is deteriorating in condition and I think we have an excellent opportunity at the moment for a social housing site to be provided.
"There's also a grant application which has been made by the council which will provide about a third of the actual development costs."
He felt that the boatyard was in a "dilapidated" state.
An initial application made last year had been for 33 flats at the site, which had drawn 20 objections. However, the plan was adjusted and re-submitted, attracting six objections.
Among those was local resident John Simpson, who is currently restoring a boat at the yard.
He told the meeting that the boatyard had been there since 1880 and called for it to be developed as a "resource for the community".
Mr Simpson claimed a number of recent housing developments in the area had seen a "high rise, pack-them-in mentality" from housebuilders, adding: "There comes a time when a village is no longer a village.
"Cockenzie and Port Seton are in danger of tipping into a dormitory town.
"We are in grave danger of destroying the very thing that attracts people to live here in the first place."
He warned councillors of the boatyard: "Once it's gone, it's gone."
Councillor Willie Innes (Lab), council leader and ward member, said he would oppose the plan as it "precludes any future development" of the harbour.
"The housing should be complementary to the harbour, not dominating it," he said,
He called for the local authority to "get involved" with the site's owners to find an "acceptable solution".
Fellow ward member Councillor Peter MacKenzie (SNP) said the scale and design were "very acceptable", but pointed to Scottish Government planning objectives of increasing sustainable economic development.
"Certainly, the boat shed is not an attractive building and it does have a very large footprint, but it is that opportunity for local enterprise which is the very heartbeat of the community," he added.
"To lose this is to lose the infrastructure that we need to go into the 21st century."
Councillor Margaret Libberton (Lab), Preston/Seton/Gosford member - who is not on the planning committee but attended the meeting - agreed with her colleagues.
She said: "Something has to be done there but we must go back to the drawing board and develop it in conjunction with the community."
Labour councillor Donald Grant said he had "sympathy" with local members but said he did "not see a great deal wrong" with the development.
The committee was unanimous in rejecting the plan, except for Mr Grant who voted in its favour. A separate application for the demolition of the boatyard was also rejected.
Members were informed that as the site was not owned by East Lothian Council, it would be up to the developer to consult with the community on its future use.
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Jun 14, 13:11
well done to the new adminstration in throwing this out, developers have been allowed to concrete and tarmac over too much of the area.
Clearly some local Councillors are out of touch with the locals (voters) when they thought the design was acceptable
Recommend? Yes 6 No 1
Jun 18, 12:53