Art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson today launched a campaign to “protect” Jupiter Artland as “a national treasure” after a nearby swathe of greenland was earmarked for possible development by the city council – branding it “Edinburgh's least sustainable housing proposal.”
The couple, who spent several years creating Jupiter Artland at their 80-acre Bonnington House estate Wilkieston, say allowing new housing to be built nearby would “rupture the peace” and deter artists from creating bespoke work for its natural landscape in future.
They are encouraging Jupiter Artland’s members and supporters to make their views known on the proposals, warning that they pose “a significant threat to its designed landscape and future operation.”
Their "open air museum" has attracted more than a million visitors since it opened in 2009. It was shortlisted for the Art Fund’s coveted UK Museum of the Year title in 2016.
Artists who have created specially-commissioned works include Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Phyllida Barlow, Charles Jencks, Anish Kapoor, Christian Boltanski, Nathan Coley, Andy Goldsworthy and Jim Lambie.
The neighbouring land at Calderwood is one of five green belt sites on the outskirts of the city which have been identified for possible new housing as part of a 10-year blueprint expected to be agreed over the next few months.
Nicky Wilson said: "Calderwood isn’t just the least sustainable housing site that Edinburgh Council has proposed, it is positively harmful to Jupiter Artland and its designed landscape.
“This is a unique cultural venue that provides a tranquil setting for people to enjoy world class art. We are all for Edinburgh meeting its housing targets and for responsible development, but a line has been crossed here. An open-air museum like this depends on the artists who choose to locate their best works here because of the fantastic setting. This would change that forever.
“Had you put on a blindfold and stuck a pin on a map of rural west Edinburgh we do not think you could have come up with a worse site.
““Edinburgh has stated that it wants sustainable development, but if this is the case why propose a site that is so unsustainable?
"The Calderwood site is away from public transport routes and there is no rational way to solve the infrastructure issues it creates.
"Our community intends to campaign against this proposal and to protect Jupiter Artland as a national treasure now and for future generations.
Council planning convenor Neil Gardiner said: “Land at Calderwood, which is close to Jupiter Artland, was identified as one of many potential sites to be considered for much-needed housing, as part of the analysis carried out for our next local development plan. As these are choices not all the potential sites may be taken forward.
“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.
"We have an ambitious target to deliver carbon neutrality by 2030. The relative contribution to sustainability of any site will be a key consideration.”