CONTROVERSIAL plans have been lodged to build dozens of new homes on the site of historic allotments.
The 90-year-old plots at Telferton, between Craigentinny and Portobello, have been lovingly maintained by generations of families since the 1920s.
But proposals by Bett Homes to construct flats and houses on the site – currently designated “open land” in the council’s city-wide planning blueprint – mean residents are now battling to keep their gardens going.
Bett Homes, which owns the land, submitted a full planning application detailing its proposals last week, with its initial aim to build 32 homes now reduced to 28 after “extensive public consultation”.
The company insisted the development, which would keep 42 allotments on the site – an increase from its pre-application promise of 38 – will “safeguard” the long-term future of the current “unauthorised” plots.
But angry residents argued the plans would see a significant reduction in allotment space and harm local wildlife.
Speaking after a community meeting last night, Rachel Purnell said: “The loss of part of the allotments will reduce open space in the immediate area, which according to the council already has a shortage of open space.
“Development would see a significant reduction in allotment space. There is a recognised lack of allotment space in Edinburgh and long waiting lists, demonstrating the demand for such sites.
“Plot holders and the local community support retaining the site as allotments in its entirety.”
The plots retained by Bett Homes would be transferred to council management, but there is no guarantee that they would then be given to the community – with the waiting list for council-owned allotments currently sitting at around ten years.
A “community storage facility” would be kept on the Telferton site, as well as two plots that could be used by schools or community groups.
Andrew Trigger, strategic land manager at Bett Homes, said: “When we first began considering the plans for the site, we consulted extensively with local people. Even though this was not a requirement, we felt it was important to get a detailed understanding of the issues affecting the local community.
“As a result, we have reduced the number of homes and increased the allotment spaces – providing 42 high-quality allotments which will be transferred to the council.
“Although we understand that those on the site may still not be happy with our plans, we feel we have made a significant number of changes to balance the clear desire to maintain allotments on the site with the increased need for housing in Edinburgh.”
As well as changing the number of homes and allotments, Bett Homes’ latest proposals show the height of a block of flats has been reduced, with no access to the site from Parker Terrace in response to concerns over parking.