Case Study – Housing Co-Ops
Challenge: Oakridge Group Ltd had submitted a complex planning application for a new village community of up to 400 houses and flats near Roslin, Midlothian. The development, St Margarets, included restoring and converting the listed former Rosslynlee Hospital, with complementary new build homes providing the essential finance to support the sensitive conversion. The old hospital buildings were falling into dereliction, but there was some local opposition to the scale of the development.
Planning applications were lodged in 2016 and 2017 for the refurbishment of the abandoned Category C listed hospital building and associated outbuildings, together with new-build residential developments in the adjacent existing farmland.
Solution: Neil Cuthbert of Public Affairs Co-Operative (PAC) worked with Oakridge to arrange several meetings with local decision-makers to ensure they had all the facts at their disposal and were made aware of how important it was to take urgent action to secure the listed buildings at Rosslynlee from further deterioration. PAC drew up a strategy for a comprehensive political engagement with local elected representatives and worked with Directors of Oakridge Property to deliver this.
Result: Several local councillors from different parties visited the site and gained a wider understanding of the complex issues – and the potential to create an attractive new community based on converting the old hospital buildings. Although planning officials were opposed to the development and recommended refusal of the application, the careful dialogue with elected representatives meant that consensus was built that the site needed a positive outcome to secure its future. Despite being discussed at committee with refusal proposed three times. The St. Margarets proposal was approved in early 2019.
Impact: An attractive new housing development will be created and important listed buildings have been saved from likely dereliction.
Testimonial: “When we recognised development at Rosslynlee was going to be complex and protracted, it was clear our case would benefit if heard directly by decision-makers. Neil Cuthbert at Public Affairs Co-op worked with us to fully understand the issues and drew up a strategy to engage with all key political players. Neil’s clear advice and detailed insight into the process delivered a successful outcome that permitted enabling development around the listed buildings at Rosslynlee to make the scheme viable. The role of Public Affairs Co-op was critical and I would be delighted to recommend them and their services to others in the property development sector.”
Rupert de Klee,
Director of Oakridge Group Ltd