A NEWLY formed pressure group in Longniddry has mailed all houses in the village, flagging up concerns over a potential housing development ahead of public meetings next week.

Listen to Longniddry, which comprises village residents and has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, printed more than 1,200 fliers to distribute, claiming that 750 houses proposed by landowners Wemyss and March Estates at Longniddry Farm would be to the village’s detriment, and that residents were not being offered a genuine voice in the process.

But the estate’s project manager, Socially Conscious Capital, this week reiterated its claim that there were no definite proposals yet on the table and said it was engaging, unlike many developers, with people prior to that stage.

It referred to publically available supplementary guidance produced for the wider strategic planning authority SESPlan – which it said communities had had the chance to feed into – pointing to an extra 3,533 county homes needed by 2024, on top of the 10,050 already allocated, and which mentioned Longniddry as a potential growth area.

Residents are encouraged to attend the forthcoming ‘enquiry by design’ (EbD) process run by The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, on Monday and the final presentation next Thursday (November 14), both at 6.30pm in Longniddry Primary School.

LTL stated on its flier: “If you do not want to see explosive growth of the village or do not yet feel you have enough information to decide if you do, you must speak out now before it’s too late.” Among issues it claims needs to be raised are: the estates’ refusal to confirm how many homes they want to build, yet proposing 750 to East Lothian Council; that greenfield development is not sustainable as claimed and the availability of large-scale brownfield sites; the effect on road and rail links given North Berwick’s growth; and that the village will be split over two sides of the rail tracks.

It also claims that the short intensive community consultation being used by the estate to feed into the design and planning is being misapplied, with the presumption that locals back the development; a lack of real time/opportunity to discover exactly what is planned; and that results will support the estate’s planning application or be used to influence the local plan.

Resident Colin Kemp, of LTL, said: “The one thing we certainly want is to voice as much and vociferously as possible the views of the village.” SCC claimed it had always been open about intending to expand south of the railway line, and said earlier representations made to SESPlan and East Lothian Council were not an actual proposal or planning application.

It said the size and positioning of any potential Longniddry expansion would be developed at the EbD – with ideas tested several times and expert input – including examining other options like eastwards development after earlier public feedback.

SCC’s Rock Feilding said that many brownfield sites had been allocated for housing and such land was not always the most sustainable due to its location; that developments could often act as a catalyst for road and public transport improvements; and that it was confident of preserving an integrated community.

He said residents had spoken of worries about housing for future generations in the village, with very few empty homes available, and that SCC felt Longniddry was strong enough for growth.

Reference by Dr Tom Slater, Longniddry resident and Professor of urban geography at the University of Edinburgh, to criticism by academic researchers of sustainable development and EbDs is on LTL’s Facebook page.

Mr Feilding said that SCC respectfully disagreed with Dr Slater’s assessment of the village’s capacity to grow and his analysis of sustainable urbanism, and that any wider objections to the SESPlan mechanism were for the relevant authorities.

He added that the EbD process was internationally recognised as an innovative and exciting way to engage communities.

SCC also stated that the land was grade two arable, not the top grade one.

Following the EbD, proposals will be put forward for allocation in the council’s Local Development Plan (2015–2024), which the public can comment on before adoption.