CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save the Craighouse campus have been stunned after developers began working on ten-year-old plans for a building and car park.
A deadline for work to begin on a Creative Industries base for Napier University, which first won planning consent in 2002, was due to expire on June 26.
But the Craighouse Partnership, which is comprised of Sundial Properties, Mountgrange Investment and the university, began digging a trench on the site days before the cut-off.
The developers also smoothed over conditions attached to the original proposals, with council chiefs last month accepting fresh plans for tree felling and tarmac paths in the woodland, while removing the requirement for archaeological investigations.
Campaign group Friends of Craighouse (FoC) has now demanded an explanation, insisting the conditions had been discharged without listed buildings consent.
FoC spokeswoman Rosy Barnes said: “This has come totally out of the blue. We were repeatedly told that there were no outstanding planning permissions on the site, yet the Craighouse Partnership are now telling the local community they can start felling trees and building car parks despite considerable holes in the paperwork and no listed building consent.
“We have serious questions about the paperwork and legality of this.”The group, which gathered a 5000-name petition against the development at that site, has in recent months been increasingly at loggerheads with the Craighouse Partnership, which plans to build 116 houses.
FoC’s Graham Cameron added: “We will demand an inquiry if necessary.
“Planning applications more than a decade old should not be able to be revived and devolved of their accompanying conditions.”
The Craighouse Partnership said the 2002 plans had been renewed five years ago, and that it was within its rights to begin work.
A spokesman for the consortium said: “Our preferred outcome for Craighouse is conversion of the existing category A listed buildings to residential use, together with high-quality new build as shown to the public at our recent consultation events.
“There is however an existing consent on the site, which was obtained by Edinburgh Napier University. It is important that we do not let this lapse and by commencing development on the site, we have now safeguarded that consent for all time. It is our intention to submit a full planning application for the site within the next few months.”
Last month, the Evening News revealed how Ms Barnes received a solicitor’s letter warning her to remove comments questioning the maintenance of the grade A-listed buildings on the campus. The June 8 blog post called on the city council to inspect the buildings, which were recently put on the buildings at risk register, and asked whether they were being looked after.
Developer Sundial Properties and managing director William Gray Muir have threatened to take legal action over the post.