THE former home of Spartans FC – dubbed Pilton’s “last bastion of green” – is to be converted into a 201-flat development after planners gave builders the green light.
A multi-million pound deal to construct seven apartment buildings on council-owned City Park were voted through this week despite fervent local opposition.
Campaign group Save City Park are understood to have collected a 1000-strong petition to be submitted to the Scottish Government in a bid to overturn a decision the community says is “disgusting”.
City planners believe the 2.3-hectare site, vacated four years ago when Spartans FC moved to a new purpose-built facility behind Ainslie Park Leisure Centre, could help plug the housing gap by accommodating 150 affordable and 51 private properties.
Housing developers Link Group are expected to start work this autumn on a site they bought from the council for £5 million.
Andrew Tait, a Save City Park supporter, said planners had been “looking for an escape route” for City Park.
He said: “The development of City Park is to go ahead. But to be honest that seemed to be the council’s intention all along. Various plans and policies have been amended to suit the desired outcome. Perhaps [it is] a sad day for democracy.”
Fred Marinello, chair of Granton Community Council, said he was “disgusted” by the decision but said he hoped it would be reversed by a Scottish Government reporter. He said: “City park was a community asset gifted to the local people and now we have all these flats being built and no money being spent on infrastructure and very little green space. There is East Pilton Park in the area but that is sub-standard and not a usable space.
“We were prepared to take City Park on [as a community] and it would not cost the council a penny. But of course they are sitting there thinking ‘we have £5 million here let’s get the cash’. The argument is that it comes down to money.” Mr Marinello hit out at planning bosses for waving through development of hundreds of new properties without making adequate investment in local infrastructure to support the rising population.
And he warned that extra traffic on Ferry Road resulting from the development could jeopardise the safety of schoolchildren in the area.
Campaigners have previously claimed the area is a haven for birds such as woodpeckers, curlews, sparrowhawks and kestrels and is an important resting place for migratory birds. Cllr Ian Perry, convener of the Planning Committee, said: “We identified this particular piece of land as suitable for residential development in 2004 and this is supported by the Local Development Plan for Edinburgh.
“The planning process aims to balance the need for both housing and open space and the Committee approved the decision yesterday.”
Developers Link Group did not comment.