New Information Could Call it into Question
The granting of planning permission for the new build at Craighouse depended completely on a “conservation deficit” existing i.e. that they would not make enough profit from developing only the existing buildings without newbuild. The conservation deficit depended on the balance between the costs of development and sales values.
The amount of newbuild has to – according to Enabling Development policy – be at an absolute minimum.
The local community and Friends of Craighouse always insisted that the sales values used by the developers were too low and that realistic prices meant no justification for any new build on the site.
The Council disagreed and said that they had undertaken a full appraisal of the financial proposal put forward by the developers.
New Information now calls this into question.
An ongoing FOI process since early 2015 that has required the intervention of the Scottish Information Commissioner in order to force the City of Edinburgh Council to release information, has shown it is increasingly clear that what was stated in the Council’s own planning report was not true.
The planning report said the full financial appraisal undergone by the Council included “internal and external audits” of the developers’ financial proposal.
However, it now turns out that this key statement in the planning report may not be correct.
External audits of costs were finally released after repeated FOI requests. After the intervention of the Scottish Information Commissioner, some details of sales price analysis were released in the form of a heavily redacted e-mail from May 2013. This was not an assessment of Scheme 3, nor of Scheme 2 but of SCHEME 1 – a scheme with a totally different plan, from a different time to the Scheme 3 and that wasn’t accepted at the time as an Enabling Development.
How can that count as an audit? It doesn’t.
The 2013 spreadsheet attached to the e-mail remains withheld. Nothing from the Council exists from 2014 except Appendix 2 of the planning report which does not constitute an audit in any shape or form. Appendix 2 is merely an acceptance of what the developer says – not an internal or external audit.
What does exist is a presentation to the Council by the developers that is clearly of very questionable validity in terms of sales values. This is not an “internal” or “external” audit either.
Sales values seen by the Evening News in 2014 showed sales values for the development of the listed buildings that meant no conservation deficit existed and that no new build was required under Scottish planning regulations.
(Note that the date of the sales figures seen by the Evening News was only around 5 weeks after the hearing and 5 weeks BEFORE permission was formally granted on 18-Nov-14!)
It looks like the Council didn’t audit Scheme 3, despite what it said in the planning report and to the planning committee.
So – what now?
Could this challenge the validity of the planning consent?
Further developments are expected in this ongoing process. Watch this space. We will keep you updated.