Tag Archives: East Lothian estate agents

No self-build plots enjoying East Lothian's views - Ogilvy Chalmers

‘Plots For Sale’ – But Not in East Lothian

This blog has been penned by Francis Ogilvy, Principal and Land agent, and Clive Cruickshank, Senior Architect, at Ogilvy Chalmers.

“Self-Build is a form of Affordable Housing” tweeted Angie Duran, Self-Build Officer of Glasgow City Council @GlasgowCC.

Is this an east / west divide between local authorities? We find no reference to promoting the idea in the newly published East Lothian Local Development Plan (LDP) Action Programme. When the former Director of Planning, Pete Collins, bemoaned the fact that we did not have more individual housing designs in the county, many of us had a ready answer!

It is noteworthy that the Scottish Government recently held a conference promoting Self-Build Housing. Looking on Plotbrowser.com recently when researching a steading valuation, we were surprised, but not shocked, to see that there are no plots for sale listed on this site for East Lothian. Cross the county border and there are scores. Is this a debate worth having whilst the East Lothian LDP Action Programme is out for consultation till the end of October?

The plan has been a significant focus for our council planning team and they should be applauded for their hard work in publishing this document. The strength of your applause, however may depend on whether or not you agree with the LDP and how policies will be delivered.

The Action Programme certainly highlights just how integrated the various sectors of the economy are. That is until the countryside is taken account of. If you are within an area zoned for employment, have a business proposition, or you live in the west of the county, development is seemingly encouraged. Elsewhere, and this surely most of the county, the old protections against change remains or is even strengthened.

For some, this will be seen as a good thing, providing a curb on poor development.

More accurately this type of policy provides a curb to the majority of development in the key sector of new private housing within the county. This type of blanket restriction only serves to stifle the type of innovative, unique and much lauded design which is coming to the forefront in many parts of the country, notably at the moment in the Highlands and Islands.

For many years our countryside has been one of this county’s chief assets, and, along with its village and farming communities, so it remains. As our average population age increases, however, the availability of good quality, affordable housing for younger families in rural areas decreases. A change in housing policy may be the only way in which our countryside and rural areas can avoid the seemingly inevitable decline in younger populations, demonstrated by waning rural school rolls.

Would it be so bad if dotted around, adjacent to many of these small communities, we built clusters of new houses? If we are content to allow national house builders to build 50+ units every 20 years filling an entire field; how about five units every two years built by a local builder? This more flexible approach to policy would help assist our rural communities through the provision of new and much needed housing.

In addition, the smaller nature of these types of development would help support local jobs in the construction industry and keep money within the local economy.

We all support ‘appropriate development’ – who would argue against it? We are also all in favour of good design. However, rather than having it being limited by a stifling blanket policy, we would like to see it encouraged by the Local Authority and evaluated in a more balanced, case-by-case manner. New housing could even be seen as an asset on the landscape, benefitting from marvelous views rather than hidden from view.

Ultimately we need to see good quality, affordable rural housing become available more often. A more flexible policy approach can only improve this, and our rural communities may once again have the opportunity to grow organically – as they’ve done so successfully in the past.

Can we make now that time again?

Please share your thoughts in this debate by going to the Proposed East Lothian Local Development Plan Action Plan. Alternatively, email Francis Ogilvy or Clive Cruickshank and we’ll be pleased to collect views and pass these on.

At Ogilvy Chalmers we describe ourselves as ‘The Compleat Property Company’ because we are a multi-discipline team of property professionals who provide a complete service. Our modern property solutions are delivered with good old-fashioned professionalism, hence Compleat, the old spelling of complete. See more on our Estate Agency, Surveying and Architecture services.

Chalmers & Co’s Architect Appointed to the Board of Trustees of Venture Scotland

Venture Scotland logo. Supported by Chalmers & Co Architects.

Chalmers & Co’s Chartered Architect, David Brackenridge, has been appointed to the Board Of Trustees of Scottish charity, Venture Scotland. David has been volunteering with the charity for over a year as an ‘venture volunteer’ helping them to deliver their outdoor programme of hillwalking, climbing, canoeing and weekend bothy trips.

Venture Scotland is a registered charity offering an outdoor-based personal development programme for young people aged 16-30, who face complex and difficult problems. Through they’re intensive work, they build the confidence and skills of young people and aim to empower each individual we work with to make positive and lasting changes in their lives.

The young people embark on a 6 month ‘journey’ where they are supported by staff and volunteers to explore their boundaries, abilities and skills while working in a supportive group situation. The charity is funded by Scottish Government, commercial and individual donations.

Their team of personal development staff work in partnership with over 150 volunteers to lead the programme. Their volunteers motivate, inspire and mentor young people. They encourage young people to volunteer as they progress through our programme, enabling them to make the leap from being supported to making a contribution to others. Whilst volunteering, young people are supported to access education, training and employment.

The charity operate from two bases, one in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow and have their own bothy located in the remote highland in Glen Etive.

David Brackenridge commented, “I’m delighted and honoured to be asked to be a trustee of this important charity. The work they undertake is truly life changing for the vulnerable young people who embark voluntarily on ‘the journey’ and they get so much out of it.

“Working as a volunteer for the past year has been quite inspirational and the change in the young people I’ve had the pleasure to work with has been dramatic helping these young people turn their lives around and make a positive contribution to the communities they live in.

“I am committed to helping them to further expand what they can offer and to ensure this important and inspirational work continues.”

What do you want from your countryside?

Chalmers & Co at the Haddington Show.

Please visit Chalmers & Co’s tent at the Haddington Show this Saturday 29th at East Fortune to give us your views on what developments and businesses you want to see in our countryside. We will be delighted to share drinks and strawberries with you.  For the most stimulating response, we shall be offering 50% off a mid-week break in one of our clients’ self-catering properties marketed through our new enterprise – Chalmers Cottages.

“We are here on earth to do good unto others.  What others are here for, I have no idea.” WH Auden.

As a firm of chartered surveyors, architects and estate agents, we work to the former question, but to ensure that we are in tune; we think you want the following:

Jobs: Our towns and countryside need appropriate development to sustain and create new jobs.  This was the focus of the Rural Voice Campaign, which will contribute to the new Local Development Plan.

Diversity: In our countryside as well as our towns.

Access: Sharing resources in the country for recreation and business. –

Investment: Critical for jobs; necessary to show off East Lothian at its best.

Care for Environment: Farmers and land managers should be best placed for this.

Energy Security: Biomass district heating,  wind and solar systems can generate good returns as well as being sustainable.

Trust: When this breaks down, it is replaced by regulation which stifles entrepreneurship.

Engagement: Community engagement is important and necessary to regain trust.

Our partner at our main ringside tent, Scottish Land and Estates, shares the same vision and principles.  We will also be joined by Core Health, whose Life Style Medicine Centre now occupies the converted steading at Prora Farm, Drem and for whom we undertook the architectural work.

We hope that we may see you at the show.

Wilma Flockhart retires from Chalmers & Co after 31 years service

Wilma Retires
Wilma Retires

Mrs Wilma Flockhart has just retired from Chalmers & Co, chartered surveyors & architects, after being with the firm for 31 years under the guise of John Sale then Chalmers & Co. Amongst her roles, she has managed the lettings and estate agency departments.

“Wilma has played a key role in making Chalmers & Co East Lothian and Midlothian’s leading residential letting and management business,” says Francis Ogilvy, owner of the firm.

“Having been to school at Knox Academy and being Haddington born and bred, she is well known by our many local clients. We will all miss her experience and sound property management advice, and wish her an enjoyable and relaxing retirement.”

Chalmers & Co’s Estate Agency Manager is Scott Jack, who has been in the post for three years. He will shortly be joined by a new Deputy Manager, who will be involved in lettings, sales and Chalmers Cottages, the firm’s new locally-based holiday letting venture.