A FORMER city primary school could be sold to developers for little more than half of its value after the council put it on the market for £800,000 below a previous estimated cost.
The Bonaly Primary School annexe in Colinton was valued at around 1.7 million in 2007, but council bosses have advertised the C-listed late-Victorian building for offers over 900,000.
Five firms have made bids for the red sandstone property, which includes an acre of land, and a council committee will decide which bid has been successful next month.
Local campaign groups, who have been petitioning for a community centre in recent years, have criticised the council, claiming they are "desperate" to sell the site to pay off the PFI costs from constructing the new school nearby.
Bill Alexander of the Colinton Amenity Association said: "The council is desperate to get rid of the annexe in order to pay off the PFI bills.
"I can't understand why the council are looking at offers over 900,000 when the school was valued at around 1.7m a few years ago.
"Someone will be getting this site for a steal. We can't understand it because if you look at the properties around here a three bedroom house goes for 550,000.
"At the very least they should hang on and wait for the market conditions to improve."
City of Edinburgh Council put Bonaly Primary School annexe, which has stood empty since 2007, on the market in January. It is the third time the site has been put up for sale.
At the end of the first bid, Sundial Properties, which agreed to make provisions for community groups, emerged as the frontrunner with a 1,4million offer, but pulled out soon after.
The council turned down a single bid the second time Bonaly came on the market last year, and according to local residents a care home provider is thought to be the leading developer this time.
One senior official at the council said that some of the current bids are around the 900,000 'offers over' price, while others are more, but much lower than the 1.4m they were offered three years ago.
She added: "We were actually quite disappointed a few years ago with the 1.4million bid because we thought it was worth more than that."
Colinton and Fairmilehead Councillor Jason Rust, who launched a campaign for a community centre on the site with ex-pupil and Hearts striker Calum Elliot in January, said: "It has to be questioned whether this now unseemly rush to sell the building is in the best interests of the Edinburgh council-tax payer. The short-term gain will look hollow if the sale could be delayed and a much larger capital receipt realised as the economy improves.
"Other developments in the area have taken a while to sell and I cannot believe that insurance or maintenance costs outweigh the potential increase in funds which would likely be achieved by delaying the sale.
"This is a valuable site in the heart of the village and once it is lost it will be lost forever."
A spokeswoman for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: "The council is marketing specific properties to get the best price and will only accept offers considered reasonable and in the public interest."