Craighouse is proving to be one of the most unpopular proposed developments the planning department has had to deal with. With 1300 individual comments – nearly 1200 being objections – and a petition of nearly 6000 signatures to preserve the green space and woodland from newbuild development, we understand this to be one of the largest amounts of objections received for a single application and demonstrates a clear rejection from the local community.
In addition to the local community and wider public – local politicians have also objected to the scheme. We are in the process of gathering these and will try and reproduce them on our politicians page in due course.
Of the letters we have received so far, the objections of the politicians are to the FUL – which contains the newbuild.
Councillor Gavin Corbett points out, however, that whilst he does not object in principle to the development of the listed buildings (the LBC) if it could reduce the newbuild that also should be looked at again:
The financial viability of the renovation work is argued to be interlinked with the case for new development and if one changes so might the other. So, it may be that another type of development from the existing buildings would reduce the pressure to build new homes, at least in the volume planned and, if so, I would wish to see that explored.
This is a very important point. His letter goes on to outline his objection to the 89 new homes across this protected site due to reasons of its contravening the Local Plan, public amenity and reduction of access, number of cars, impacts on traffic, schooling pressures, character of the Conservation Area, setting of Listed Buildings and wildlife impacts. He also says,
A key part of the developer’s case is that these – and other – arguments should be set aside in order to secure a viable development which makes use of the existing buildings. This case, however, has not been set out in detail in the application. My reading of the English Heritage guidance on enabling development (the only benchmark we have) is that it is not sufficient simply to show that any one plan for developing existing buildings has a deficit and that other development is needed to offset that deficit; rather that there is no other option, that there is no way to sustain the historic buildings without allowing other development. First of all, I do not believe that case has been made; and secondly, the scale and footprint of new build is, I believe, disproportionate to the perceived deficit.
The English Heritage Guidelines are immense and it is cheering to know that they are being properly researched by some of our local Councillors.
We very much agree with Meadows and Morningside Councillor Mark McInnes’ letter. As a local Councillor, Mark understands the site and its surrounding architecture well and objects to this “very significant over development”, calling for a hearing to be held if the Committee does consider granting this application:
The proposals for building on one of Edinburgh ’s iconic seven hills and important wildlife and conservation area is totally contrary to the Edinburgh local plan. The enormous amount of new build on this wonderful site is contrary to a significant number of planning policies and cannot in my view be justified. The Development sub- committee would have to have justified to them as to why policy could be overridden, this justification has not been provided.
I am very concerned that the financial case for the development has not been provided for the proposals do not seem to have a solid base for being described as an “enablement” development.
The local infra structure in the area, whether it be education, water and sewerage or transport is at a very high capacity and I would be concerned about the impact of this proposal on the local area.
The Craighouse Campus is part of the Craiglockhart conservation area and borders the Plewlands conservation area. The proposed new build on the site is not in keeping with the predominantly low level terrace and cottage style architecture in these areas.
In conclusion I believe that the proposals would represent a very significant over development of the site and I would request that a hearing is held if the Committee is minded to grant permission.
Council Leader, Andrew Burns, has also sent in a letter of objection. After having weighed up the arguments – he says:
Regrettably, I believe the current application represents an unacceptable amount of abstraction of open space for private use, and I therefore wish to object on the following grounds:
– the Edinburgh City Local Plan designates Easter Craiglockhart Hill as ‘open space’ and an ‘area of great landscape value’. My understanding is that these designations predicate against development that will diminish the landscape (Policy ENV11) or fail to preserve or enhance the conservation area (Policy ENV6).
– in my judgement, the new build currently proposed for the site does diminish the open landscape character of Craighouse and is thus against the Edinburgh City Local Plan policies alluded to above. What is currently proposed would thus, in my judgement, be to the detriment of the special character of Easter Craiglockhart Hill.
– I am aware that the Applicant’s Planning Statement acknowledges that their proposal is contrary to the Edinburgh City Local Plan and justifies this breach of policy on the ‘enabling development’ argument.
– but until further, detailed information is made available on this argument, my own view is that the application … as currently configured … should be refused on the grounds that it does breach the Edinburgh City Local Plan.
MP Ian Murray has also written a long and detailed letter. We will try and post it in full soon for you all to read. Whilst we do not agree with his assessment of the consultation process, we certainly applaud Ian Murray’s conclusion where he says:
I would hope that the Planning Committee are minded to refuse this application and work with the Council on what would be acceptable to produce a scheme that preserves the listed buildings, maintains full and unrestricted public access to the site, places the “public” access areas in public ownership in perpetuity, respects the special nature of this site, reduces or removes the need for new build and has purposeful and two-way dialogue with local residents and community leaders alike.
The current development proposal is contrary to so many of the Councils planning policies that it is important that any development is exceptional for this site and any concerns about the amount of new build and the design etc are at the forefront of the Planning Committees deliberations.
I would urge the Planning Committee to reject the application.
We are still in the process of compiling all the letters from politicians, so will put up more extracts next week.