Yesterday, we learnt that LA&P are no longer part of the Craighouse Partnership. This begs the question, can any of the other companies in the Craighouse Partnership leave the consortium? No explanation has been given of why or how LA&P left the consortium, despite our repeated questions. Did they decide to leave, or were they asked to leave? We don’t know.
Which other companies could leave the Craighouse Partnership?
Mountgrange are the funder, so it seems hard to see how they could leave. Napier University still occupies the site, so it is hard to see how they can leave the partnership for a year or more.
Could Sundial Properties leave the Craighouse Partnership? Sundial are listed after LA&P in the Mountgrange portfolio page for Craighouse, so presumably they can leave at least as easily as LA&P can.
Invicta PA act as lobbyists for the partnership, but could they leave? They are not even listed on the Craighouse Partnership website, so it seems perfectly possible they could leave.
After Napier has left the site, could we just be left with Mountgrange? We don’t know. We don’t even know if Mountgrange themselves could just sell the site on to someone else.
If partners can leave without any explanation of why or how, where does that leave us if a deal is done with one of the partners? Politicians talk about doing deals with the developers. Even we are often asked about what “deal” we would do with the developers (how are we in a position to do a deal? Of course we can’t do a deal, we have no power). But who signs such a deal? Will they even be around long enough to implement the deal? If specialist companies like LA&P leave the partnership, then how do we know that specialist knowledge remains?
These are some of the questions we are going to try to get answers to.
Assuming it is the Craighouse Partnership that has right over the estate (anybody actually checked this with the Registers of Scotland?) then it matters little what businesses are in that consortium as it will be bound by the same agreements. i.e. a legal entity must hold title for the land/property and that must either be a company or individual, it is that company that is bound by any agreement/contract/laws.
Perhaps focus should be applied to building a legal argument as to why they should not be allowed to build, attacking the consultation process, and when the planning application is submitted finding flaws in that.
If the Craighouse Partnership is a legal entity in Scotland, then it isn’t clear what that legal entity is. We will try Registers of Scotland, that’s a good suggestion, thanks. We will see if they have more information about who owns the site.
If you ask questions of the partnership, you officially need to ask Invicta, but get a reply back from Sundial. Neither of which appear to actually own the property. So it isn’t as simple as it might at first appear.
A legal argument as to why they should not be allowed to build is also more complicated than it appears. The developers use a financial argument, and an argument based on the 1992 local plan. The 1992 local plan has now expired, and the financial argument depends on evidence that the developers will not give us.
Planning rules are complicated, and not the straightforward laws you might expect. The rules appear to be able to be bent or changed according to the circumstances. It is also partly a political process. To many of our representatives who are influencing the process, the trustworthiness of the individuals they are dealing with is very important.
Sometimes developers go into administration, leaving an unfinished development. Sometimes aspects of the development are not completed at this point, such as social housing, or other forms of “planning gain”. For politicians whose objectives are met by such planning deals, this is very relevant.
Mountgrange’s previous project involved the partial demolition of some beautiful buildings on the Royal Mile. For many politicians, this was a price worth paying to get investment in the city centre, even if the rules protected the buildings.
At least one politician has suggested that development should be allowed in order to fund development of a school extension, or a whole new school for Morningside.
So the issue of who we are really dealing with is quite important. If we are to be pushed into doing a deal, who are we doing a deal with?
Can I just check, the postcode for the Craiglockhart campus is EH10 5LG? On searching the RoS site, it doesn’t give any results (you can only search for a six month period at a time, so I covered back till Jan 2010). May be worth contacting them. If they have nothing then I would imagine the sale is on a “subject to planning permission” basis, which would be good news as if the prospect was made commercially unattractive the developers would have the option of pulling out.
As far as I know, Napier University is subject to Freedom of Information requests. Has anyone requested a copy of any documentation connected to the sale (there will be a large quantity of it, e.g. meeting notes, emails, surveys, risk assessments, financial impact assessments, etc)? I know they can claim exemptions but the chances are there will be material that they’ll have to release if the issue is pushed hard and pervasively enough.
I suppose the last method to determine their company (consortium) setup is Companies House, although I suspect it will involve using third-party services to work backwards. It will probably cost a certain amount in fees but the information will be there. I would assume the consortium will be a limited company, so it will have to be registered.
Planning law may be complicated but it is still law, and both City of Edinburgh Council and the consortium are bound by it. It would be in peoples’ interests to know the law inside-out, as it is the only solid means of recourse if our glorious leaders in the Council succumb.
From an *exceedingly* cursory read, would I be right in thinking any development has to be in line with the local development plan unless it is of enough importance/size to warrant a review in public in front of the Councilors? Again, from a very quick read, there seems to be sections in the local development plan that seem to exclude the possibility of this type of development on that site.
Obviously, I will do a lot more reading and familiarise myself with planning law properly, however it is usually best to know this material early on as mistakes/omissions are usually not recoverable at a later date.
When you said,
“At least one politician has suggested that development should be allowed in order to fund development of a school extension, or a whole new school for Morningside.”
could you elucidate which politician said this? Perhaps said politician should be reminded of their duty to provide these services out of the existing budget instead of trying to make a false bargain to their voters 😉
Has there been any discussion on a “happy-medium”, e.g. the main building gets developed but they don’t touch anything else nor build anything new?
I’d emailed the other day offering to setup an online forum and other help, give me a shout if this is of use.
The post-code used for the planning consultation application is EH10 5LG, so I assume that would be used for ownership as well.
We have done Freedom of Information requests to Napier University, and many have been refused on commercial grounds. We are still trying, but it will take time and more pressure to get useful answers.
We have tried Companies House. You can look up Craighouse Ltd on Companies House. It was dissolved several years ago. Craighouse Ltd is the company named as owning the site in the developers’ consultation information.
Development *does* have to be inline with the local development plan, and the site is indeed very protected.
You might want to read this: http://www.scotsman.com/edinburgh-evening-news/education/school_now_in_the_mix_to_take_over_craighouse_campus_land_1_1941030
We are working on talking to all our local representatives to explain the love local people have for the site and how the site is used by children, wildlife-lovers, dog-walkers, runners, fireworks-watchers and all the other members of the public.
I would have thought that only developing the existing buildings for residential use would be a “happy medium”, but I doubt the developers would. I have calculated that they should make a decent profit out of only developing the existing buildings.
Your offer of help is much appreciated. We will be in touch. Our biggest need right now is for help with the petition. The petition is what affects politicians.