I recently welcomed Andy Wightman, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, to Musselburgh with a visit to the former supermarket site in Mall Avenue. What an eyesore. (The site that is, not Andy!)
Andy met with local residents concerned at the lack of progress since Dundas Estates was given planning permission in September 2008 for 140 flats, only 11 of which would be affordable.
Andy is quite rightly urging people in Musselburgh to contribute suggestions for a masterplan to transform the area.
Dundas paid Tesco £4.8million for most of the site in 2012. Dundas is owned by construction firm James Walker of Livingston, which earlier this year reported a 13 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £9.5million.
East Lothian Council paid Tesco £1million for a corner of the site in 2012.
In September last year, Dundas Estates said they were three weeks away from submitting detailed plans to East Lothian Council but as yet no such plans have been lodged.
Andy, who is Housing and Land Reform spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:
“The saga of this old supermarket site is a classic example of how our current approach to planning and land use fails our communities. If a vacant land tax had been levied there would have been an incentive for developers to get building or sell on to someone else who would. Instead, the people of Musselburgh have been left with an eyesore for almost a decade.
“The community should be in the driving seat on this. Rather than continuing to pin hopes on a profit-driven developer, I’d encourage local people to have their say on what this site could look like.”
This chimes with my own view.
Those of us who live in Musselburgh are fed up with this blot on our town centre and riverside landscape. East Lothian Council have shown no urgency in bringing this site into productive use.
I’d like to see social and affordable housing, land for community food growing and space for children to play. The developer’s proposal of just 11 affordable flats is an insult. I have asked East Lothian Council how, as a community, we can be supported to develop a masterplan for the site so we actually get what we want.
Got an idea for the Mall Avenue site? Send me your views: firstname.lastname@example.org.