15 January 2014

Protecting Craighouse

Haven't done much blogging recently, but thought it might be worth posting up my letter of objection to the Craighouse developments -- the deadline to complain is tomorrow 16 January!  I was a bit pressed for time, so my letter below is based on a sample letter that the Friends of Craighouse propose on their website, but with some additions of my own.  I did write my first objection myself, but now can't find that text.  sigh. 
I'd encourage everyone concerned about the site - or the principles involved involved.  You can do this either by leaving a comment on the planning portal, or email emma.wilson@edinburgh.gov.uk . 
As a local resident and a Merchiston Community Councillor, I am writing to object in the strongest terms to the proposed new build development at Craighouse campus. 
This area is an important component of the greenspace available to residents in the South Edinburgh area.  It also a highly protected site and development here is contrary to its designation as an Area of Great Landscape Value, Open Space in a Conservation Area, nationally protected setting of Category-A listed buildings, and as a Local Nature Conservation Site. The whole site is a candidate for Special Landscape Area (SLA) in the new Local Plan which is due to be adopted in a few years.  This site is not designated for development in the Edinburgh Local Plan and is indeed contrary to the Edinburgh and Lothians Structure Plan, the Edinburgh City Local Plan, National Planning Policies and local policy documents.  To encourage development here would make a farce of all these statutory and regulatory processes, as well as the city's commitment to sustainable development. 
The new build proposals are out of keeping with the conservation area character, and the adjacent residential areas.  They would also involve a substantial loss of protected woodland and Open Space and amenity. It spoils the setting of the Listed Buildings – which is protected by national policy and spoils views. The 6-7 storey apartment blocks will ruin the spectacular vistas and views in and out of the site,  for which the site is famous, and will also ruin the setting of Category-A listed Old Craig  which is protected by national policy.. The other development sites will ruin the setting of Category-A Listed Buildings, spoil views from Blackford hill and the north and spoil the natural feel through to the Right of Way on what is a loved nature site and protected green site.  My family and I visit this area often, as it is only a few minutes cycle from our front door, yet we can walk and enjoy the unparalleled views of Edinburgh, even when we must get home for lunch or putting a child down for a nap.  This helps keeps us active and healthy, and gives the children much-needed space to run around in. 
The extra cars, traffic and newbuild properties will destroy the natural feel of the site as well as putting an untenable strain on local roads and schools, which are already at capacity.   All new development is contrary to the protections on this site and 7 development areas on this protected site is clearly very excessive. There is no justification for destroying habitat and chopping down over 80 protected trees on a site that is supposed to be a Local Nature Conservation Site, Habitat of European and National Protected Species.  I also have particular concerns about the implications for run off and the paths that parallel Meadowspot. 
While I understand and accept that some development is likely on this site, it must be in keeping with the neighbourhood, the existing protections for the site, and the long term interests of the city as a whole. 
In a historic and widely respected city such as Edinburgh, it cannot be acceptable to overturn so many policies and protections simply because a developer seeks to bully their way through the planning system. This  would create a very unwelcome and worrying precedent for other protected and special sites in the city, and raise real questions about our commitment to ensuring that Edinburgh is developed in a sustainable way and that future generations will enjoy the same quality of life as we do now. 

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