SNP MSP Emma Harper has welcomed the decision by Dumfries and Galloway Councillors to remove the housing designation from land at Parkhead in the Noblehill area of Dumfries. The change will be made to the new Local Development Plan which is currently being prepared and which will come into effect in 2019.
The decision was made after SNP Councillor for Nith Ward John Campbell proposed a motion to remove the area in question, noted as DFS: H3, from the new Local Development Plan. The motion was seconded by Conservative Councillor for Nith Ward Malcolm Johnstone, and councillors then voted by 18 votes to 14 to support the motion.
Emma Harper, who has previously raised concerns about lack of consultation regarding development on Parkhead, met with local residents at an emergency surgery earlier this month. She welcomed the decision, commenting:
“I’m delighted that councillors have recognised the value of Parkhead as accessible open space. It has been clear from the outset that the community was not opposed to development and housing, their concerns were always specific to this area of parkland due to the use of that site by so many people in the local community.
”The decision that has been taken follows Scottish Government advice on open space and planning, which explicitly says it is the job of planning to protect valued and valuable open spaces like Parkhead. It is clear that Parkhead creates opportunities for all sections of the local community to interact, for play, sport, recreation and for people to live active and healthy lifestyles.
“While the Scottish Government and the SNP are fully committed to increasing affordable housing, we must balance the need for houses alongside people’s health and well-being, including the need for accessible open space.
“I will be writing to both DGHP and the Housing Minister to request meetings to explore how we can work together to encourage appropriate housing development in Dumfries.
“In the meantime I would like to commend both the local community and the local councillors for the positive and consultative manner in which they have engaged with each other. Our planning system and our local democracy can only benefit from having empowered communities who communicate positively with local councillors.”