Please write to the Scotttish Government and ask for the Craighouse application to be called in. Please do this very quickly.
If the application is ‘called in’, the Scottish Government takes over the final decision about the fate of Craighouse from the council. This can happen in cases where there is an issue of national importance. Calling-in stopped the Haymarket 17-storey tower.
To be Called-in the effects must be of “national importance”. But, the director of the Scottish Property Federation has already said it will set a national precedent, so there is no doubt it is of national importance: “The precedent of Edinburgh’s Craighouse decision may therefore prove to be a key consideration in assessing redevelopment proposals across Scotland”.
Our MSP, Jim Eadie, has already said in an interview with STV that he will “call on the Scottish Government to investigate the way in which this decision has been made”.
Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian is also going to ask the Government to look into this decision as has Ian Murray MP. Andrew Burns, local councillor and leader of the council has said the application warrants call-in. Please add your voice to theirs.
How to ask for a Call-In.
Contact the Minister for Local Government and Planning, Derek Mackay MSP
By email at email@example.com
This is the common ministers’ email box – state clearly ‘for the attention of Derek Mackay’
By letter to:
Derek Mackay, Minister for Local Government and Planning,St. Andrew’s House, Edinburgh EH1 3DG.
- Please use your own words to describe your feelings about how this decision on Craighouse was made against the objections 2MSPs, an MP, 6 local Councillors, the Cockburn Association, the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, Friends of Craighouse and huge numbers of the public.
- And say how you feel about the way it contravenes Scottish Planning Policy and Local Policy to protect the site.
- You can see the quality of the debate on the web cam. We suggest you listen to the debate at the end if you haven’t time for it all. There were excellent presentations from all the opposition.
Important points some of which you might want to include in the communication – use your own words to show your feelings for Craighouse.
- Ask for City of Edinburgh Council Planning Application 12/04007/SCH3 to be called-in.
- Craighouse is one of the 7 Hills of Edinburgh, the setting of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site, which is of international significance
- The planning application involves 7 listed buildings and their setting, both building and setting of national importance on Easter Craiglockhart Hill within the Local Nature Conservation Site.
- The proposal asks for a significant amount of new build which has not been properly justified as enabling development to preserve the listed buildings.
- The application goes against national planning policy and sets a very dangerous precedent for Enabling Developments across Scotland. The Director of the Scottish Property Federation, a trade body dedicated to the interests of the real estate industry in Scotland, has already hailed it as a precedent:“The precedent of Edinburgh’s Craighouse decision may therefore prove to be a key consideration in assessing redevelopment proposals across Scotland”
- It will overturn national protections on: listed buildings and their setting; and wildlife and biodiversity.
- It was opposed by 2MSPs, and MP, 6 local Councillors, the Cockburn Association, the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, Friends of Craighouse, 7 Community Councils and many other groups as well as huge numbers of people – thousands wrote in to object.
- The developer has exaggerated the condition of the building using the word ‘critical’ when asked by councillors. This is untrue.
Scottish Planning Policy: “SPP142”
The application was justified on just one national planning policy. No local policies were in favour of the planning application. Therefore, the committee were being asked to consider a national policy and not one of their own Edinburgh policies. It was evident at the hearing on September 3rd that the council planning committee was finding it very difficult to assess this case and was struggling to this Scottish Planning Policy 142 which says:
“Enabling development may be acceptable where it can be clearly shown to be the only means of preventing the loss of the asset and securing its long-term future. Any development should be the minimum necessary to achieve these aims. The resultant development should be designed and sited carefully to preserve or enhance the character and setting of the historic asset.”
- For Craighouse it is not the ‘only means’ as there are alternative possible uses for the site. The convenor of the planning committee said “I don’t think anyone is in dispute there can’t be an alternative use for this… you’ve made your case that there is an alternative”. So, the plans fail the first test of SPP142 because there clearly is an alternative.
- No financial plans were presented to the committee for securing the site’s long-term future. No attempt was made to demonstrate the viability of funding long-term maintenance. So, the plans fail the second test of SPP142 because the long-term future is not secured.
- The amount was not shown to be a minimum as no modelling was presented of a minimum. So, the plans fail the third test of SPP142.
- The planning report used the word “detriment” 51 times, so it cannot be said that the plans preserve or enhance the character and setting of the historic asset. So the plans fail the fourth test of SPP142.
Saving Craighouse with a community buyout plan
The Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Bill gives communities the opportunity to save precious sites themselves. The issue of whether communities should be given the opportunity to save sites like Craighouse is critical to consideration of this case. If SPP142 requires alternatives to be investigated, why did Edinburgh Council’s planning committee not think that this was material to their decision? If this precedent is allowed to stand, then what use is the Community Empowerment Bill?
- There is an alternative Community Plan supported by local business people and working with advice from the Development Trust Association Scotland that will protect the green space in the site and convert the listed buildings for residential and business use.
- Craighouse would be an ideal flagship case to demonstrate commitment to local empowerment.
- A strong case with very strong evidence was put together by the local community that the application should not be passed.
- Ignoring the community’s valid, relevant and material concerns about this development shows the lack of ability of national policies to deliver local empowerment.
- Large numbers of people wrote strong a material reasons why this application should be refused. They should not be ignored.
Quality of debate
- Those looking at the web cast online were horrified by the quality of the debate by some of the councillors. Had they read the Planning Report or the objections?