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We're MIR'ed in it all .. but must be very much aware and involved and commenting ...

Here comes another Consultation, but it's a/the biggie!

We really do have to join the discussions about MIR. It's the Main Issues Review which is just now out for Consultation prior to the drafting of the County of East Lothian's 'new' Development Plan.

East Lothian Council, representing all 101,360 of us, is having its arm twisted hard by the Scottish Government and the planners of Edinburgh and the SE Scotland 'Region'. The hard word is that these two agencies want East Lothian to contribute 16,000 new houses in the next decade - by 2024 - with associated employment. Where should they go?

Frankly, it's not what most of us sincerely hope the 'new' County Development Plan will look like when that is crafted because thus far there's no discussion of what makes East Lothian such a grand place for its existing inhabitants ... and it should indeed must! Obsessing about new housing is never going to be enough no matter how great a priority it is seen to be by those currently living outwith East Lothian ....

Not a good time to float yet another Consultation perhaps but ...

Coming close on the heels of [Inch]Cape's dream for a SubStation on the Prestonpans Battlefield and Scottish Enterprise's ludicrous suggestions for a swathe of land from Cockenzie Power station inland, one might feel a tad weary of providing feedback for unreceptive planners or elected representatives. But this time it really is going to be different, we hope/think.

The notion that East Lothian is destined to become even more of a dorrmitory county for Edinburgh is seemingly well entrenched. So if that is to be an inescapable significant part of our future development the prayer must surely be 'may we not become suburbia as well.'

Since 1947, designated Green Belts have been a most significant determination, ardently championed by the late Frank Tindall when he led the county's planners in the last century . They ensured we preserved and sustained the discrete villages and townships we still have, and because of that one can readily see why East Lothian is such a treasured place to live.

So it's vital that as the county seeks to deliver the 16,000 or so new houses it bears these issues strongly in mind - and of course it is in the west hereabouts that the dangers of incipient suburbia already loom.

Prestonpans stands separately from Wallyford to the south west, Musselburgh to the west, Cockenzie/ Port Seton to the east, Tranent to the south and the new developments at Blindwells to the south east. Let's seek to ensure that it stays that way with green lands between us all. We have them currently but must speak up loudly to ensure they stay. Perhaps the greatest danger is to the south and west from new Prestonfields to Wallyford/ Dolphingstone but there is talk to the east of a total Blindwells of 6,000 homes one day in the future not just the present 1,600 or so.

Of course it's true that all these communities have an excellent transportation infrastructure that connects to the capital but that's no excuse for swamping every acre with housing or even local employment opportunities.

... then there's the stated notion that the battle site is zoned for 'mixed' development ...

Not really please. The battle site can indeed be a candidate for cultural and heritage development and its surrounding lands for sensitive and appropriate initiatives, but why say 'mixed'? Be bold.

There are exemplars at Culloden and Bannockburn that show clearly how the community's heritage from the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745 can in its turn be developed to attract as many as 100,000 visitors each year. Let that be the stated purpose please.

As has already begun with Hargreaves for the first 1,500 houses at Blindwells/ Charlestoun, suitable and sensitive development can build on and consolidate the heritage of the Riggonhead Defile along which the Prince and the Highlanders marched to victory over Johnnie Cope's redcoats. Similar plans are emerging for the Battle Bing, Bankton Doocot and the Gardiner Obelisk and for a Field of Remembrance to the north west of the core battle area.

... there's got to be careful mention of the Waggonway ... but not so far ...

... and Yes, whilst exploring how the battle site can be conserved and developed, there's every reason to exlore the complementary ancient coal waggonway with its connections from Tranent to Cockenzie Harbour. There a fine opportunity to restore Cockenzie Harbour and to reconnect the Waggonway right through to Birsley Brae. It is ideal off piste walking for the John Muir Way with superb views to Fife and the Fourth. And of coursed Cockenzie House itself is a fine asset which is already actively developing its community role.

... and then there's the notion of industrial development of the Prestongange Heritage Museum site??

There's a challenging notion. Jobs perhaps? Certainly something has to be done to sustain and develop it as a worthwhile heritage asset and if there is no will or imagination, then maybe it could usefully return to its industrial roots. Morrisons Haven could be a contemporary haven for tidal energy generation as it was in the 16th/ 17th centuries and a rail connection could readily be re-established. But its acquired role since the 1960s seems to be infinitely preferable with bold imagination that honours the heritage. The Battle Trust has proposed a new pavilion for the Prestonpans Tapestry and a living history centre in the old BathHouse. There is a working steam engine that is out on loan in Fife [wonder why? don't ask!] and the beam engine and brick kilns beg for imaginative interpretation. The beehive kilns could be rebuilt for craft workshops and Fowler's Brewery can relocate from The Prestoungrange Gothenburg. Let all that be in the County Plan as well as activist industrial archaeology and battlefield interpretations for both Pinkie Cleugh and Prestonpans.

...Some local detailing from the proposals in the MIR ...

Published Date: November 21st 2014

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