At a meeting with local residents on the 26th June, representatives of The Craighouse Partnership showed pictures of the huge Creative Industries building applied for by Napier in 2001 and for which permission was approved in 2002, along with new car-parking in the woodland, removal of mature trees and woodland and the destruction of areas of green space. Many people don’t know about this building (and indeed many residents at the meeting were shocked and surprised to hear about it for the first time) because the application was put in around Christmas at the time, and because it was never pursued.
The Craighouse Partnership told the meeting that they could build it tomorrow.
When we had investigated this consent previously we found there was a series of stringent conditions before it could be activated, and that Listed Building consent (which was required before any work could start) had run out in 2007.
However, we have now found out that The Craighouse Partnership are trying to claim they have started work this June, despite the fact they have no Listed Building Consent, and that the planning department have moved to waive all the stringent conditions to let them do so – taking only a week to make that decision with no apparent elected oversight.
This, despite the fact they have no Listed Building Consent – without which the consent says that The Craighouse Partnership are not allowed to start work.
There are numerous other problems with the way the process was conducted outlined in our letter.
The paperwork remains patchy and unclear.
The consent was granted in 2002 but the contract not signed until 2007 – odd in itself. This contract has no date on it – either on the contract itself or by the signatures, which are not typed next to, therefore unreadable.
The consent itself was not on the portal when we first looked, not in the historical files when we checked them twice over several months, not available under a FOI request to Napier …and yet when we went back to the historical files at the end of last week – there it was sitting right on top of the file.
Let’s be clear, the application was for an 80,000 sq foot institutional university building – which is no longer required. Material planning considerations were contravened with great difficulty at that time in order to meet the needs of the university – which is moving out. So why are the planning department considering granting this consent to an off-shore investment fund who wants to put housing across the site?
The Craighouse Partnership should come forward and put in their own application and let it answer on its own merits. They should not be granted an over-decade old consent for 80,000 sq feet of new-build at a stroke, out of the public eye, that would allow them leverage whilst also allowing them to immediately build new car-parks and clear woodland before their real plans are submitted.
We have written to the planning department a letter detailing why we think the process has not been followed properly and asking about missing paperwork.
We have called on Elected representatives to halt this process – which should not be taking place out of the public eye. This being holiday time is not helping matters, but a number of them have responded and we are awaiting to see what transpires.
The Craighouse Partnership no doubt will try and downplay the significance of this – but if this is forced through then it will grant this consent in perpetuity.
Additional update: I said that I would give an update on the inspection of the listed buildings by the Council. We have had a short update to say the buildings are currently satisfactory, which is good news and that they will be monitoring the situation from now on. However, I am going to try and clarify what this means in relation to the BARR report which lists East Craig’s condition, for example, as “poor” with a higher at risk category. (The boiler house which is also Grade A and deemed high risk and in poor condition on the BARR, we believe the Craighouse Partnership want to demolish, although this has not been made clear to people yet. The Council inspection called this one satisfactory too, so not really sure what “satisfactory” means). It is also unclear what the current status of wet and dry rot is, although the Craighouse Partnership have said they will have specialist monitoring quarterly from now on in order to fix problems quickly, which is good to hear.
I hope that this, coupled with monitoring going forward by the Council, means the partnership will now leave the language of dereliction behind and concentrate instead on reducing the new-build and putting forward a more reasonable development. I will continue to try and keep you posted.