We have discovered that the Council are trying to change the designations over key areas of the Craighouse site where the developers want to build without any consultation or proper transparency with the general public.
The present draft of the Edinburgh Local Plan – one of the most important planning documents which is presently up for consultation (deadline Fri at 5pm) shows that the designation of Nature Conservation Site has been removed from lots of the site including:
- the green space with mature trees around the entrance where the kids play football
- the green spaces and trees and shrubs around the listed buildings
- the lush green field next to Queens Craig by the pine trees and look-out point
- a large chunk of the lawn and the area where they want to build a modern block next to Bevan
- and the carpark area
The majority of this sizeable area of land are areas the Craighouse Partnership want to build on, or privatise.
What is Going On?
When we phoned up the Council to enquire what on earth was going on, we did not receive a proper explanation. Further research online has revealed no justification or information about what is going on. There has been no physical change whatsoever in these areas to account for why the designations should be entirely removed from large areas of the site. The only thing that has changed since the last Local Plan is that the Craighouse Partnership want to build there and have submitted an application. Indeed, we have a biodiversity audit that says that some of these areas are of the highest biodiversity value.
Here is a map from the present Local Plan – the orange shape in the middle shows areas of Biodiversity Value at Craighouse – as you can see, the vast majority of the site:
In the new plan you can see a vast chunk of Craighouse is not covered (the area that is not orange stripes).
Here are some of the areas where they are trying to take away the nature protections:
We urge you as a matter of absolute urgency – please write and say that you object in the strongest possible terms to this removal of designation and that this should be corrected and Craighouse should all be covered by the Local Biodiversity Site Designation. There is no justification for this removal of designation. That it should happen in the middle of a development application is highly questionable. Nothing has changed in terms of Biodiversity and wildlife. Indeed, that the whole site should be classed a Local Biodiversity Site under the Local Plan due to the wealth of wildlife and habitat. The entire lawn and orchard areas should be included as fieldfares and other visitors feed on the orchard and we have extensive video footage of bats feeding on the orchard taken only this year.
That such a thing should be happening, behind closed doors and away from the general public in the middle of one of the most controversial development proposals Edinburgh has ever seen is deeply concerning and we will be asking tough questions to find out what is going on and why.
EMAIL BEFORE FRIDAY (14th) at 5PM
Please email : email@example.com or write to Local Developent Plan Team, Waverley Court (G3) to arrive before 5pm this Friday. They prefer you to use a form here but they should also accept emails but make sure you copy in your local Councillors (emails below).
Please include your name and address and say that your comment is in relation to the proposals map and you can also reference p13 39/40 of the Plan Biodiversity Designations.
You can cut and paste this if helpful:
I would like to object to the change of designations on Craighouse – a site that was previously nearly all marked as Local Nature Conservation Site and now appears to have had a lot of this removed, for no reason and with no note in the text to explain why. Craighouse is presently the subject of a very controversial application for a housing development. For designations to be changed in this fashion to apparently accord with development proposals in the middle of an application and when nothing physical has changed about the site – is extremely worrying and completely inappropriate. I would urge you correct this as soon as possible and designate the whole site a Local Biodiversity Site .”
Please copy to your Councillors.
Other Important Local Greenspace under Threat
Midmar Paddock – the field adj to Blackford and Hermitage
It is clear that Midmar Paddock – which borders the Hermitage, is a loved area and part of walks and is a site of Great Landscape Value (like Craighouse) is also vulnerable to the threat of development. Although the proposed Local Plan sees its designations remaining, it has been proposed for development by developers in the Main Issues Report and the Environmental Report says that proposals will be revisited if the reporter wants more land released. This is one of the reasons that Craighouse is important – not just for here, but for the whole city. Once these designations are overturned, it weakens them on other very important green and wildlife sites.
We would like to encourage everyone, alongside their Craighouse comment an additional comment to say you strongly object to the proposal in the Main Issues report from developers that any part of Midmar Paddock (an Area of Great Landscape Value) be developed and that any development here should be strongly resisted and that you would like this comment noted.
The Local Development Plan sees a very large release of previously protected green belt land for housing. We are not able to guide you through this very extensive issue, although it becomes even more paramount to protect urban green sites in such a context – but we can at least alert you so you can put in comments. Maps etc can be viewed here:
The local plan can be found online here: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/178/local_and_strategic_development_plans/1019/local_and_strategic_development_plans
Here are some politicians’ email addresses that I forgot to put in earlier (thanks Ruth!) – you can cut and paste this group of emails if that is easier.
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;
Currently writing my objection, but notice that councillor email addresses have been omitted and i only have one for paul godzick who seems to be the only current councillor who bothers to actually consider and answer about issues, any others i have written to have just sent me standard letters and no follow up. However, I am prepared to try them yet again just in case any have noticed that what their constituents think SHOULD influence their thoughts and actions!
Ok, I’ve found them, so just to save others the bother, here are the addresses:
paul godzik councillor (firstname.lastname@example.org); email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org); email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org); email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks Ruth for copying them here – updated post with the emails. Forgot to put them in first time round – so sorry about that!
Just emailed this to the Council: “I refer to p.13 39/40 of the new draft local plan and to the proposed change in the Biodiversity Designation of the Craighouse campus area. There is no reason to change the biodiversity designation of this site. There has been no change in the site itself since the production of the last local plan, in which the biodiversity designation was applied. The only thing to have changed in relation to this site since the last plan has been the proposal by Craighouse Partnership to build new houses of a modern design on this site. As you will be aware, the Craighouse Partnership proposals have met with strong opposition from local individuals (including some local politicians) and groups. It could be argued that he removal of protective designations from Craighouse Campus makes it more likely, rather than less likely, that planning permission for inappropriate building on the site will go ahead. This would be both wrong and corrupt, in my view. I am interested to hear back from local politicians on this issue, and have copied this email to them. Meanwhile, please log this email as my strong objection to your proposal”.