Controversial Murrayfield development with ties to Steven Mnuchin and Louise Linton revived
Controversial plans to build swaths of new housing in an Edinburgh conservation area by a trust with ties to the Scots actor, Louise Linton, and her husband, Steven Mnuchin, the former US Treasury secretary, have been revived.
The Rockshiel Trust, previously listed by Mr Mnuchin, a key figure in Donald Trump’s administration, among his global portfolio of property holdings, aims to build a series of townhouses and apartments in the west Murrayfield area of the capital.
Nearly three years have passed since the trust first lodged plans for the multi-million pound property development, only for it to repeatedly withdraw the planning applications amid a slew of criticism and near universal objections.
However, it filed a new application with the City of Edinburgh Council towards the end of October, seeking to build eight townhouses and six apartments in the grounds of a 19th century villa in Murrayfield’s Kinellan Road.
The ties between the development and Mr Mnuchin first came to light via his declarations to the US Office of Government Ethics. Along with the trust, he listed three commercial properties in the capital, with a top value of $5.3 million, (£3.95m), as well as a residential property worth up to $5m ($3.7m), and three Bank of Scotland accounts holding up to $365,000 (£270,000).
The US Treasury subsequently said that the properties were listed by Mr Mnuchin because of his wife, and that he had no financial interest in the trust. Ms Linton, whose latest film sees her star as a serial killer hedge fund manager, is a beneficiary of the trust.
A date has yet to be set for when the trust’s third and latest application for the housing plans will be heard by councillors. Out of 62 comments received so far by the local authority, all but one object to the development.
A 13 page supporting statement lodged alongside the planning application explains that the housing will take the form of “two high-quality terraces,” each consisting of four townhouses, as well as a single block of six flats, and associated parking and open space.
Such housing, it states, would make an “attractive and appropriate addition” to the area, and the statement notes that following the withdrawal of “similar but large scale development” applications, those involved have held “extensive dialogue” with council officials.
It also contends that there is a “well-trodden path of redevelopment, infill and garden ground development in the west of Edinburgh,” including at nearby properties.
The statement, prepared by APT, an East Lothian planning and development consultancy, goes on: “Given the visually secluded setting, this proposal represents a far more appropriate solution than many other prominent developments close-by, each of which has had a very jarring impact on the setting and character of the conservation area.”
But Jim Forbes, vice-chair of Murrayfield Community Council, described the site as a “small but vital wildlife oasis, probably the last of its kind left in west Edinburgh,” and warned it was “earmarked for destruction.”
He said: “With its margins and reedbed, the loch provides a habitat and food source for a wide variety of insects, amphibians, birds and mammals. Ducks, moorhens and herons commute between this sanctuary and the Water of Leith, some nesting and raising their young in the seclusion of a beautiful spot.”
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