Council sends letters to 230 ‘nobodies’ in derelict properties

More than 230 letters were sent to Fort House, Leith. Picture: Colin Hattersley
More than 230 letters were sent to Fort House, Leith. Picture: Colin Hattersley
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HUNDREDS of letters have been sent out to abandoned flats in a council tower block that is due to be demolished – asking if the “residents” objected to a planning application.

The letters were sent to more than 230 flats in Fort House, Leith, which have been empty for more than six months, while houses some 20 metres down the road were not told about the proposal to turn the closed Fort Primary School into offices for social workers.

The building, which houses a community wing used by the elderly, families and ethnic minorities for meetings, could be transformed into offices for Children & Families employees, sparking concerns about who will use the facility.

One resident said it was “shambolic” that the council had sent 230 of the 290 letters out to derelict properties and suggested that it could be a ploy to receive a small number of objections.

She said: “They sent out notification letters to a seemingly large number of local residents with a total of 293 letters being sent.

“However, 231 of these were to addresses in Fort House, overlooking the school. This building is in the process of being demolished, with the last residents moving out over six months ago. Could this be a deliberate ploy to make any comments received a tiny proportion of the notifications sent out? We cannot believe that Edinburgh council is so incompetent that they are unaware of the current demolition work.”

Another resident said: “It’s shambolic, really. I live very near to Fort Primary, but because I live more than 20 metres away, the council said it did not have to inform me about the plans.

“Yet they’ve sent hundreds of letters to buildings due to be knocked down? What a waste of time and resources.”

Local councillor Chas Booth said: “I’ve spoken to a number of residents who 
are concerned about the proposals on a number of grounds.

“The community wing is used by a wide group of people – pensioners, people with young children and ethnic minorities – and some have concerns that if they are using the same door as some of the people 
who will start visiting the building, there might be conflict.

“Planning rules are very strict when it comes to informing people within a 20-metre boundary, but streets very nearby did not receive any notification. That to me smacks of somebody who is not thinking carefully of the local impact.”

A council spokesman said everyone who needed to be informed had been contacted.

He said: “We are obliged to follow national planning regulations both for the sake of all interested parties and to ensure there is confidence in the system.

“Anyone can sign-up to receive notification by email on our website and we would encourage people to do that.”

victoria.raimes@edinburghnews.com