Campaign to block green belt housing beside Edinburgh sculpture park wins crucial backing from neighbouring council

A green belt housing development that is said to threaten the future of an award-winning sculpture park on the outskirts of Edinburgh has been dealt a major blow - after the neighbouring local authority raised protests about its impact on the environment.

Robert and Nicky Wilson, the founders of Jupiter Artland, launched a campaign to try to thwart the green belt housing bid in September. Picture: Allan Pollok-Morris

West Lothian Council has objected to the prospect of around 2,000 new homes being built in the Calderwood area, near the Jupiter Artland attraction.

Its founders, Robert and Nicky Wilson, launched a campaign in the autumn after the nearby land was one of five green belt sites earmarked across Edinburgh identified for possible development under a ten-year blueprint for the city.

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They have described the idea as “Edinburgh’s least sustainable housing proposal".

Antony Gormley's Firmament sculpture is one of the most popular works of art at Jupiter Artland.

However, West Lothian Council chiefs have claimed the relaxation of planning restrictions would have a major impact on the "magnificent woodland" in the area, as well as local on infrastructure and facilities.

The National Trust for Scotland, Angel of the North creator Antony Gormley and crime writer Ian Rankin, a regular visitor to Jupiter Artland with his family, have led calls for a rethink.

The Wilsons claim the surrounding landscape at Jupiter Artland would be “irrevocably destroyed” by the new housing and the development would deter artists from creating bespoke work there.

A statement from West Lothian Council said: “The council is a statutory consultee on the plan and has provided an official response highlighting concerns within the plan for potential development of 2,000 homes in the Calderwood area to the south-west of the city council area near its border with West Lothian.

"The site has been identified as an alternative proposal, which could be utilised for housing should preferred options for development growth closer to the city not be chosen.”

Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “In our view, the proposal has not been justified in terms of impact on local facilities, it isn't a sustainable extension to the existing community and will have a huge adverse transport impact on transport in the area.

"It includes areas of magnificent woodland with an abundance of wildlife. Local people have enthused about its beauty with their increasing walks during lockdown."

A spokeswoman for Jupiter Artland said: “Meaningful public consultation has been hampered by the pandemic, which is why it is doubly important that West Lothian Council’s strong objection to be heeded. The Calderwood site is the least sustainable and inappropriate development will have negative effects on Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh’s countryside and West Lothian.​”

Neil Gardiner, planning convener at the city council, said: “As a city, we’ve made clear our preferred choice for future development in the forthcoming City Plan is for sustainable ‘brownfield’ development within the city urban area.

"Land at Calderwood, which is close to Jupiter Artland, was identified as one of many potential sites to be considered as part of the housing analysis work carried out.

"The council is carefully considering all of the comments made during the consultation and will take a proposed plan to a future committee. At that stage we’ll consider whether to include this site as a potential area for housing.

“It’s very important to make clear that as a city we have an ambitious target to deliver carbon neutrality by 2030. Therefore the relative contribution of any site to sustainability will be a key consideration.”

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