David is planning for retirement after three decades with Edinburgh City Council

Edinburgh City Council is set to wave goodbye to one of its longest serving and high profile civil servants.

Retiring: Planning chief David Leslie

The local authority’s head of planning, David Leslie OBE, is set to leave the service of the council after more than three decades in city planning.

During his tenure in the planning department, the capital has seen huge developments take place, such as the acceptance of the development framework for Leith Docks, which is currently the largest planning application ever granted in the city.

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His career of almost 30 years has helped safeguard some of Edinburgh’s architectural treasures, particularly in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

There has also been controversies, however, such as the much-criticised approval of the St James Quarter building, nicknamed ‘The Golden Turd’, and the ongoing palaver with the former Royal High School building.

A former Heriot’s schoolboy, he earned a first class degree in town planning from Heriot-Watt University in 1984 before starting his career at the Cumbernauld Development Corporation.

In 2004 he was awarded an OBE for services to planning, and in 2017 he was made chief planning officer of Edinburgh City Council.

Neil Gardiner, convener of the planning committee and SNP councillor for Pentland Hills, said: “David Leslie has had a long and hugely influential career in planning spanning over 30 years and his dedication to making improvements across the service as our chief planning officer will be greatly missed.

“He played a key role in taking the service through the recent and previous Scottish planning reforms and he led the way in the council with the use of digital planning tools such as the planning portal.

“I have very much enjoyed working with David and wish him well in his retirement.”

Maureen Child, vice convener of the planning committee and Labour councillor for Portobello and Craigmillar, said: “David championed engagement across the spectrum for us helping many more residents and groups such as community councils, the Civic Forum and the Edinburgh Development Forum have their say.

“A talented man, he has an OBE for services to planning, and I believe he’s a keen curler which I’m sure he’s looking forward to finding more time for when he retires.

“I echo Neil’s sentiments and have very much enjoyed working with David and wish him well.”

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