Brunstane Farmland housing plan not viable say residents

Campaigner Chris Berry says the proposed development at Brunstane Farm is unsafe. Picture: Neil Hanna
Campaigner Chris Berry says the proposed development at Brunstane Farm is unsafe. Picture: Neil Hanna
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MOVES to advance plans for a controversial major housing development at Brunstane have been branded “premature” by campaigners.

Arm’s-length council company, the EDI Group, has submitted a Proposal of Application Notice for residential development, a new primary school and local centre, including retail and other ancillary commercial uses and community facilities, parkland and “associated infrastructure” at a 48-hectare site. The area, known as Brunstane Farmland, is earmarked for between 950 and 1330 homes in the Local Development Plan currently awaiting approval.

But campaigners fighting the proposal say it would eat up the last piece of green belt separating Edinburgh from Musselburgh and claim the land is unsuitable for development because it is “riddled” with old mineworkings.

Chris Berry, of Save Brunstane Green Belt (SBGB), said: “Given the LDP is still with the Scottish Government planning reporter and there has been no decision from them, this is somewhat premature.

“We’re quite surprised EDI are going down this path without a definitive steer from the reporter about whether the site will be included or excluded from the plan.”

Mr Berry said the campaign group had raised its concerns about the issue of historical mining on the site with the planning reporter.

“The whole site is riddled with near-surface coal seams and a number of mineshafts.

“A survey undertaken by consultants for the developers indicated significant areas of the site are geologically unstable.”

And he said the Coal Authority had categorised the site as a “High Risk Development Area”.

“They said with the information to hand they could not say it cannot be developed, but there would need to be boreholes drilled to ascertain how much of it was unstable.”

Mr Berry said the site of the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome near Glasgow had similar mineworkings which had to be dealt with. He said: “That was a ten-hectare site – the survey work cost £500,000 and the remedial work was £5m. Brunstane is a 50-hectare site, so you could be looking at upwards of £25m before they even start.”

Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone endorsed the concerns about the mineworkings and said the proposals also posed a major threat to the green belt.

She said: “If this piece of green belt is lost, it would be a classic example of ongoing urban sprawl.

“You would lose the separation of Newcraighall and Musselburgh from Edinburgh.”

A spokeswoman for The EDI Group Ltd said: “We are well aware of the site’s mining history and we have previous experience in the local area. We have carried out extensive assessments using information from recent and historical intrusive investigations.

“As our plans progress, and if necessary, we will undertake further site investigation. The current evidence supports our view that this site can successfully contribute to the city’s housing needs.

“It is our belief that the Brunstane site should form a key part of the wider development plans to address Edinburgh’s long-term housing requirements and our proposed masterplan ideas will create a new family friendly neighbourhood with easy access to the city and beyond.”