CAMPAIGNERS fighting the controversial Craighouse development have gained the heavyweight backing of city heritage body the Cockburn Association, which has stated it “strongly objects” to the plans.
In a frank letter to city planners, director Marion Williams claims the work proposed “unquestionably diminishes” the landscape character of the Napier university campus.
Ms Williams says the association will not comment on detailed aspects of the design and their impact until developer the Craighouse Partnership provides its financial case. She said: “The applicant’s argument is that the open landscape qualities require to be sacrificed to secure the future of the category A-listed buildings, now on the Buildings at Risk register, through enabling development. No information has been made available that convinces the association that this is the case.”
The association has also asked that any financial case be made available to the public and not the subject of a Freedom of Information request.
She added: “It is imperative that third parties have the opportunity to examine the financial appraisal in this case as any further confidentiality is likely to inflame an already heated public debate.”
The contentious proposals, which have already been scaled back following protests, involve 153 units – 64 from the conversion of seven existing A-listed buildings and 89 new-builds.
Campaign group the Friends of Craighouse, which has 5000 signatures on a petition against the scheme, has dismissed the changes and says the plans are “diabolical”.
Campaign spokeswoman, Rosy Barnes, said there was “no justification” for the new-build homes.”
William Gray Muir, of Sundial Properties, has been reticent in recent weeks on the financial details of the development, but previously revealed that prices will range from £150,000 for a flat in the existing New Craig building to £1.5m for a home in the original building, Old Craig – being restored to a single home.
In reply to the Cockurn Association’s objections a spokesperson for the Craighouse Partnership said: “Edinburgh Council agreed in January 2012 that the financial case for a significantly denser scheme was ‘not unreasonable’, and commissioned an independent audit of the business case for the plans. This independent audit supported the council’s position.”
It is understood that The Craighouse Partnership, comprising Sundial Properties, Mountgrange Investment and the university itself, are providing the council with additional information ahead of this secondary independent audit.
The deadline for comments was today, but the council said it will accept them up until Friday, January 4.