Academy wins three-year pitch battle for floodlights

A LEADING city public school has won a three-year battle to build floodlights on its hockey pitches.

Edinburgh Academy first launched its plans to build floodlit, all-weather pitches on its playing fields off East Fettes Avenue in Inverleith in 2007.

It won approval for the pitches in 2008 – they have since been built – but its plan to make them flood-lit was rejected after fears the light would be too intrusive on neighbour's homes.

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The school relaunched its plans for 15-metre floodlights last year and the scheme has now won council approval.

Marco Longmore, rector of the Edinburgh Academy, said the school was "pleased" by the decision.

He added: "This will enhance the opportunities for sport in winter months for our pupils and provide enhanced opportunities for community access."

Approval was given after the school offered to make the floodlights retract to 6.5 metres when not in use. They also agreed to ensure the lights were only used from 8am-8.30pm during the week and 8am-5pm at weekends.

However, local residents were still strongly opposed to the proposals. They claimed that people who live at Fettes Rise, Kinnear Road, College View and the new Cala development would be badly affected by the lights.

Jack Bannerman, chairman of the Fettes Rise (1970) Proprietors' Association, said: "One has to wonder why the planning department bother to have policies to protect sensitive areas of the city and conservation areas when they are quite prepared to drive a coach and horses through their own carefully researched planning policies when they see fit."

During a discussion of the proposal, Inverleith councillors Tim McKay, Stuart McIvor and Lesley Hinds spoke out against the plans. Councillor McKay said: "It will be a lot of light and quite an intense level of brightness. The light will bounce off the pitches and into 70 homes surrounding the pitches."

Councillor Hinds said: "We have been asked to agree to 12 ugly columns in a conservation area that will shine lights into residents' homes in the winter.

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"This is a residential area on three sides in a conservation area and it will have an effect on residents and the conservation area."

However, council officials recommended the proposal was approved, and were backed by seven of the 12 councillors on the development management committee – meaning the plans were given consent.

Councillor Charles Dundas said: "I do not think this detracts from the character of Inverleith because that character is partially made up of playing fields."

Planning leader Jim Lowrie said he backed the plans as they were "not excessive".