TRANSPORT chiefs have been ordered to apologise for failing to provide detailed and timely information over their handling of proposals to build a 5000-spectator stadium in the grounds of Scotland’s oldest rugby club.
Following a complaint lodged by members of Save Stockbridge, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) found council officials had not responded “reasonably” to written requests for an explanation of why they had not called for a full probe into the impact on traffic of Edinburgh Academicals’ plans to build a stadium and retail units in the Capital’s Raeburn Place.
Concerns were also raised over the response provided to campaigners, with SPSO staff finding it was “unreasonably broad” given the project’s size exceeds guideline thresholds at which a development’s effect on transport levels is “likely to be greatest”.
Protestors fighting the plan today reiterated their warning that it would lead to traffic chaos and said they would be looking at the “viability” of a judicial review of the council’s conduct.
Bruce Thompson, chair of Save Stockbridge, who lodged the complaint, said: “My letter to the Ombudsman essentially asked why an assessment had not been done and this is what the Ombudsman has upheld in his decision.”
Investigators agreed that, as national planning policy does not provide a specific method for calculating the number of trips generated by a development or the likelihood of any traffic increase, the council were “reasonable” in issuing a response insisting Accies’ plans were considered to be “of insufficient scale to justify a full transport assessment”. But they said more detail should have been offered and recommended council chiefs apologise for sending an initial response to campaigners which did not address requests for clarification on the traffic issue.
Mr Thompson said: “Everyone has been putting pressure on them to carry out this assessment. Right from the very beginning we have had to fight with Edinburgh City Council over the way they have managed this application.”
Accies chief executive Frank Spratt said: “It’s not for us to comment on the way the council responded to concerns, but we are pleased the Ombudsman has upheld the council’s view that a Traffic Impact Assessment was unnecessary.”
A council spokeswoman said: “We have taken on board the comments from the Ombudsman and we will be sending the complainant a further more detailed response shortly.”