Longniddry Development proposals go on display

Local people are invited to view and give their feedback on emerging proposals by developers Socially Conscious Capital (SCC) – in partnership with the Wemyss & March Estate – for the sustainable expansion of Longniddry.

The proposed Vision and Masterplan will be presented at a public exhibition at the Longniddry Inn from 4pm to 8pm on Tuesday 25th February 2014 and follows a consultation exercise undertaken by The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community in November 2013. This Enquiry by Design (EbD) process, undertaken through a series of public meetings and design workshops, provided local residents and stakeholders with the chance to shape the emerging proposals.

A website on proposed development can be accessed at: www.longniddrydevelopment.com.

Based on the Prince’s Foundation’s study, SCC is looking at proposals for an exemplar village extension of approximately 450 new houses, including affordable housing, and an additional mix of uses such as community facilities, small offices, shops, allotments and orchards, as well as improved walking network opportunities. There are also proposals to address traffic/safety issues in the existing village centre.

The Prince’s Foundation’s study concluded that Longniddry has sufficient capacity to deliver some of the new housing that East Lothian needs, as set out in the SESPlan Supplementary Guidance on Housing. The Prince’s Foundation study will inform the submission by Socially Conscious Capital to the East Lothian Local Development Plan*. This will allocate specific sites for development but is not due to be adopted by the Council until mid-2016. Very few, if any, developers have begun any measure of community consultation at such an early stage in this process.

The Prince’s Foundation study identified two potential locations for new sustainable development in Longniddry: the majority of new development would take place around Longniddry Farm south of the railway, but it could also be possible for some new development to take place within the Gosford Estate to the east of the village. Proposed new development would take up only 0.043% of East Lothian’s arable land, and it should be noted that it is not in the designated Edinburgh Green Belt.

This proposal would deliver:

  • an exemplar village extension of approximately 450 new houses, including a range of house types and tenure options
  • an additional mix of uses such as a range of community facilities, shops, small offices, allotments, green spaces and community orchards
  • all new development within a 5-minute walk of the village centre and shops
  • all new development within close proximity of regular bus and train services, thereby minimising dependence on travel by car

The proposal offers the opportunity to share and enhance existing infrastructure, local services and facilities such as the primary school (which has spare capacity and a declining school roll) as well as expand community facilities on land adjacent to the railway station. It would also be possible to provide enhanced GP and dental facilities within the new development if necessary.

Great care has been taken to address the key concerns raised by the local community during the Enquiry by Design process. For example, the new development would be designed to ensure it is well connected and integrated with the existing village.

Proximity and walkability are key to connectivity and integration, which is why the proposed new development would be located to be within a 5-minute walk of the village centre and shops.

Physical connections, both vehicular and pedestrian, would also be improved:

  • The new development would see improvements made to the physical connections under the railway line: there would be three pedestrian/cycle routes under the railway, which would all be made well-lit and attractive; there would be new traffic signals at the junction of the A198/B6363, as well as a new footpath under the bridge, and there would be an upgraded disabled access over the railway at the station.
  • The traffic along Main Street would be slowed down by a number of public realm interventions and design features.

Just as important as the physical connectivity is the social integration, which would be achieved by ensuring that there are reasons for people on either side of the railway to cross over to the other.

Some people were also worried that the new development would detract from Longniddry’s character and village feel. Therefore, not only has the scale of new development been conceived to ensure that Longniddry remains a village, but great care is being taken in the design of the proposed development to reflect Longniddry’s and East Lothian’s local vernacular and character.

Dominic Lawson, Town Planner at Socially Conscious Capital said:

“We are delighted to be presenting these proposals for Longniddry community’s feedback. Few developers engage with the local community at such an early stage in the design and planning process, but we think doing this has helped us come up with early proposals that we can be proud of.

“We are not proposing new development because we think the village needs fixing, but because it is in the right location and has sufficient capacity to deliver some of the new housing that East Lothian needs. However, in addition to the much-needed new housing, we want to make sure that any new development also delivers tangible benefits to the existing residents of Longniddry, so we are grateful to all those who came to the various meetings and workshops to share their ideas and concerns for the future. We hope that they will see for themselves how we have responded to suggestions so as to alleviate potential problems and increase local benefits.”

“We look forward to meeting everyone at the public exhibition on 25 February.  Anyone can drop-in any time between 4pm and 8pm, in the function room of the Longniddry Inn.”

Background

*SESPlan (the Strategic Development Planning Authority for Edinburgh and South East Scotland) has published draft Supplementary Guidance requiring East Lothian Council to identify land for an additional 3,560 new houses to be delivered by 2024. This requirement is on top of all the existing allocations within the county, including sites such as Blindwells.

SESPlan has identified the East Coast Strategic Development Area  – which Longniddry is within – as an appropriate location for new housing due to its rail and other transport connections. There is also a recognised demand for housing in the village, especially for new families and young couples, as well as downsizing opportunities for the elderly.

About the Prince’s Foundation

The Prince’s Foundation teaches and demonstrates sustainable development placing community engagement at the heart of our work.

The environment within which people live affects the way they live. We believe that sustainably planned, built and maintained communities improve the quality of life of everyone who’s part of them. They help us to both live better at a local level and start dealing with the broader global challenges of urbanisation and climate change. By actively and passionately promoting traditional principles, as well as understanding the importance of building in a more sustainable way, we’ve seen a resurgence in striving for easily achieved improvements in public health, and affordable, livelier and safer streets and communities.

Our goal is a future where all of us can take part in making our communities more sustainable. We’re working with everyone from local residents’ groups to governments to make it happen.

For further information: www.princes-foundation.org

About Socially Conscious Capital

SCC is a family-controlled development business committed to the principles of Sustainable Urbanism: we want to build new developments that have a mix of uses, housing types and tenures, that are walkable and encourage sustainable modes of travel, that are in keeping with the local vernacular and sensitive to distinctive local styles, and that people will want to live and work in for hundreds of years to come. We believe that by building such communities, with a real sense of place and belonging, we can maximize the value of the development while ensuring social, environmental, and economic benefits for local people – that is why we are called ‘Socially Conscious Capital’.

SCC was established in 2009, but our management team has over 40 years experience in the property development, investment, and management sector. Between us we have secured planning permission for over 10,000 new homes and have worked on many significant development and regeneration projects.

For further information: http://www.sociallyconsciouscapital.co.uk/