FEARS untouched green belt land across the Capital could be carved up for housing have flared after the Scottish Government gave a contentious residential development the go-ahead.
The Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals has ruled in favour of allowing a 110-home development to go ahead at Edmonstone Estate on Old Dalkeith Road, Danderhall.
Planning permission for the development had previously been rejected by Edinburgh City Council planners in October last year.
The Government reporter overturned the decision despite the site being on green belt land and being classed within a local nature conservation site. A considerable shortfall in the effective five-year housing land supply in Edinburgh and a history of failure to deliver ambitions for housing in the area were cited as reasons for supporting the appeal.
The council had set aside alternative green belt sites in Edinburgh’s west at Maybury and Cammo, near the airport, for new housing in its proposed Local Development Plan (LDP), but had not included the Edmonstone Estate site.
It is not the first time a Scottish Government reporter has recently overruled a decision by council planners to protect land from housing developments, with projects at Dreghorn and Burdiehouse given the green light after being initially rejected. Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “This is a very narrow part of the green belt, so therefore it’s a very sensitive site. I’d be very concerned if this is the beginning of joining Edinburgh to Midlothian.
“Clearly there is a desperate need for affordable housing in Edinburgh, but I think it’s vitally important that we ensure we look at the many brown field sites around. There are a great many sites nowhere near as sensitive as this one.”
Ms Johnstone said she would be “very concerned” if a pattern emerged where planning decisions on green belt sites were regularly overruled.
Plans for an 80-bed private hospital had previously been granted in 2008 for a neighbouring site.
The Edmonstone Estate development will be a mixture of houses and flats, with 25 per cent classed as affordable housing. City planners have previously voiced concerns they would lose control over Edinburgh’s expansion if the council did not identify enough new sites for housing. Planning chief Councillor Ian Perry said earlier this month: “It is estimated that Edinburgh needs 16,000 new affordable homes in the city over the next ten years and the LDP will help the council and other housing providers to meet this need.”
Neil Harrison, head of marketing for Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre, said greenfield sites were popular with developers because there tended to be no complications such as ground pollution.
Craigmillar Community Council secretary Terry Tweed said the Edmondstone site was in poor condition despite being part of the green belt, adding: “My thought is housing and people come before grass.”
A council spokesman said: “We have only just received the reporter’s decision letter. We will have to study its implications before deciding how to proceed.”