COMMUNITY leaders today hit out at plans to build hundreds of new houses in the Capital which will swallow up five football pitches.
The pitches in Craigmillar - four at Hunter’s Hall Park and one in Cairntows - have been earmarked for almost 300 new houses.
The development would be part of the Craigmillar Urban Design Framework, a 15-year scheme drawn up by the council and its arms-length development firm, EDI, to rejuvenate the area.
But the community council has criticised the proposed destruction of a popular green space and said developers need to go back to the drawing board.
A football barn containing 12 pitches is to be built on the site of the Jack Kane Centre, as part of a new 28 million sports facility including a 250-metre velodrome and curling rink.
With another well-used community pitch at Cairntows Park identified in the plans as a good site for office space, the community could possibly lose five pitches.
And replacing this with one football facility is, in the eyes of the community council, simply not good enough.
David Walker, secretary of the Craigmillar Community Council, said: "These pitches are very well used by the local community and there are at least five or six games of football played on them every week. They are used by youth teams and by amateur footballers, so it is the whole age range.
"There is a serious concern among people here that this new development will do little to help the community. They are proposing destroying public green spaces without replacing them
The proposed development is expected to cost around 180m and would see 3200 homes, a new high street and at least four schools built in the area, roughly doubling the community’s population. But residents have criticised the plans.
Robert Kidd, the manager of Castle Vale club who use the pitches at Cairntows, said if the plans went ahead it would be the second time the club had been forced to move because of development.
He said: "This would take away our independence as we have built a good home ground here and have invested in a pavilion.
"There are people from 19 to 40 that play for the club in the Edinburgh Sunday amateurs league and that could be taken away."
The pitches at the Jack Kane Centre are used for football by more than 100 people every week, while many more walk there. Paul Nolan, former Labour councillor and chairman of the Jack Kane Centre management committee, said the football barn would not be an adequate replacement.
He said: "It is not open space and this is not just about football.
"You could not walk through this new centre, and there would be a loss of a valuable public parkland. If the population here is to be doubled, which could be a very good thing for the area, then we need more open spaces, not less.
A public meeting to discuss the plans is to be held in the Hays Business Centre on Tuesday
Councillor Ricky Henderson, Edinburgh’s culture and leisure leader, said: "Under current planning guidelines, the council is not allowed to dispose of any pitches unless it can be shown that they will be re-provided in some way in the same area.
"I would certainly not support any development that would mean a loss of football pitches and I do not believe that will be the case here."