Littlehouse Media

Midlothian ‘zero carbon’ office development seeks Planning in Principle

The application for Planning in Principle for Melville Gate, a ‘zero carbon’ business park at Sheriffhall South on Gilmerton Road (B6392), near Lasswade, Midlothian, zoned for business use within the Midlothian Local Development Plan 2017, is due to be placed before Midlothian Councillors this week. 

The proposals for the allocated economic development land comprise four class 4 use office buildings of two and three storeys of approximately 70,000 square feet in total, provision of 295 parking spaces and a new vehicle access from Gilmerton Road.

The imperative to respond to changing climatic conditions and integrate sustainable measures into the key phases of the development has been fully recognised by development consultants, Advie Properties Ltd. In line with the Advanced Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework, the many strategies and measures being worked into the scheme include on-site power generation, non-CO2 emitting fuel sources, waste management and recycling, sustainable building methods and locally sourced, renewable materials.

The site was identified by the Council as suitable for business use more than 12 years ago.Its sensitive location within the Green Belt requires that the building designs respond to the rural surroundings.  Natural screening from established and proposed tree planting will minimise the visual impact.  Additionally, the proposed site landscaping respects the sensitive nature of the surrounding countryside, offering opportunities to create habitat for wildlife and flora, whilst delivering an attractive and healthy environment from which to work.

The application is led by James Barnes, Director of landowners, Melville Nursery Ltd, together with development consultants, Advie Properties Ltd.  James Barnes has a strong connection with Midlothian.  He was CEO of the Barnes family owned Dobbies Garden Centres plc between 1989 and 2013.  He was a non-executive director of the Business Partnership (formally Midlothian Enterprise Trust) for 20 years, and lived with his family in Eskbank for 16 years.

Once constructed the business park will be targeted at local businesses who have a ‘green’ agenda.  It is well located in relation to the wider communication network and has a large, growing, residential catchment, in accord with the requirement for office space within 15 minutes-drive of people’s homes. The timing is also ideal, responding to the increasing demand for sustainable small flexible office space in attractive environments.

James Barnes, director of Melville Nursery ltd, landowners of the proposed Melville Gate site, said: “The area of land we are proposing for the development of Melville Gate business park was cut off from the rest of Melville Nursery by the construction of the A7.  Zoned for business use by Midlothian Council for many years, its location is perfect for an easily accessible ‘zero-carbon’ office development that will meet the current demand for small, flexible office spaces in a positive environment in a post pandemic world. 

“Melville Nursery is currently in the process of its own development, into a large wholesale plant Nursery.  The teams behind Melville Gate and Melville Nursery are working together to cross fund the infrastructure for both projects.”

Stuart Wright, Advie Properties Ltd, said: The pre-application feedback for Melville Gate’s class 4 use office buildings on the site was largely supportive. Any concerns raised by Midlothian Council, Community Councils’ and other interested parties have been acknowledged, taken on-board and incorporated into the proposals.

“We are keen to see the site developed in a sensitive and ecological way. The rural surroundings and the habitat they offer to local biodiversity will be embraced within the proposals. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibilities to invest in solutions to the various crises which face the planet right now and in the future. The buildings and infrastructure at Melville Gate will be designed and specified to ensure that sound and sustainable principles are adhered to. Ensuring the built environment is created in this way should guarantee the overall success of the development.”


Media contact:

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E: [email protected]| M: 07913 951717

Notes to Editors:

Location of Melville Gate site (red pin) – 

The Melville Gate development

The Melville Gate development site is bounded to the west by the A7 and the B6392 (Gilmerton Road) to the north. To the east lies the grounds of Melville Castle and the River North Esk runs just outside the southern boundary.

The site is currently owned by Melville Nursery Ltd.  It was owned by Dobbies Garden Centres Ltd before it was floated as a plc in 1997.  The construction of the A7 separated it from the larger part of the nursery.  As a result, ownership of the site stayed with the Barnes family, former owners of Dobbies Garden Centres Ltd.

The application for ‘Planning in Principle’ for the Melville Gate development was registered on 15 December 2020.  There has been a couple of agreed extensions to the application determining period due to the Covid -19 pandemic.  However, the development team hope that the application will be determined by November 2021.

The development team for Melville Gate include:

Landowner – Melville Nursery Ltd

Development Consultants – Advie Properties Ltd

Architect – Mill Architects

Engineer – Goodson Associates

Landscape Architect – Harrison Stevens

Environmental Consultants – ITP Energise

QS – RC Brown

Highways – Modus Transport Solutions Ltd

Commercial Property Consultants – JLL

James Barnes

James Barnes worked for Dobbies Garden Centres plc, a family business, for 23 years.  As Chief Executive between 1989 and 2013 he was instrumental in developing the business from five centres to 32, turnover from £4m to £150m, and employees from 120 to 3000; all from the Head Office in Dalkeith. During his tenure, he led a management buyout in 1994, a flotation in 1997 and the sale of the business to Tesco in 2007. He left Dobbies in July 2013 after 6 years with the Tesco Group.

James Barnes was a non executive director of the Business Partnership (formally Midlothian Enterprise Trust) for 20 years.  He is Chairman of the Trustees of Thirlestane Castle Trust, which owns and operates one of the oldest castles in Scotland.

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