CONSTRUCTION of a new Portobello High School could be delayed by up to two years after campaigners announced they would appeal a court decision granting its development.
Lobbyists from Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG) have vowed to appeal a ruling from the Court of Session that paved the way for a £45.1 million school campus to be created in Portobello Park.
The group, which has been fighting the city council’s plans for a replacement Portobello High School since 2006, had launched a legal challenge arguing that the park site could not be appropriated because it was common good land.
However, in a ruling early this month Judge Lady Dorrian upheld the council’s appropriation of part of the park.
Court proceedings have already delayed the building project by at least six months but any appeal could now derail development by up to two years, it is understood.
PPAG insisted it was not opposed to the creation of a new high school but object to the “irretrievable loss of 25 per cent” of Portobello’s parkland, particularly when there are “other suitable brownfield” sites for the development.
In a statement, PPAG said it had received legal advice that there were “strong grounds for an appeal” and said the outcome of this dispute had consequences for the whole of Scotland.
“If this judgement is allowed to stand, it means it will be impossible to challenge decisions to appropriate or alienate common good land in law,” it read.
“This means that councils, especially in these cash-strapped times, could sell off, or appropriate for other uses, our common good assets, regardless of public opinion.”
It continued: “The council recognised in 2006 that uncertainty over the legal issues was a risk to the completion of the project and had decided in 2008 to approach the court for a ruling.
“If it had done so, the legal position and any appeal would have been settled by now.
“Also, none of the other suitable sites would have been subject to these issues and had the council gone ahead on one of those sites the new school could have been built by now with support from the whole community.”
Gillian Tee, director of the children and families department, said the authority was “disappointed” by the news of an appeal because there was “no doubt” a replacement school was “urgently” needed.
“The appeal will have serious implications in delaying the delivery of a much-needed school in Portobello,” she said.
“Lady Dorrian’s judgment confirmed and strengthened our view that the council has the power to build the new school in Portobello Park and we will meet the challenge head on.”